Merck CEO Kenneth Frazier to step down

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Merck & Co said on Thursday Kenneth Frazier, one of only a handful of Black CEOs leading major U.S. companies, would step down as chief executive officer at the end of June to be replaced by Chief Financial Officer Robert Davis.

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Frazier, 66, will continue to serve on Merck’s board as executive chairman for a transition period to be determined by the board, the company said. The company’s stock price has doubled since he took the helm in 2011.

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TickerSecurityLastChangeChange %
MRKMERCK & CO. INC.75.56-0.48-0.64%
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A career pharmaceutical industry executive, Davis joined Merck as CFO in 2014 and took on added responsibilities in 2016 to include the company’s global support functions.

Under Frazier’s watch, cancer drug Keytruda has raked in blockbuster sales for Merck, becoming one of the leading products in a new generation of oncology treatments.

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The grandson of a sharecropper, and son of a janitor, Frazier was set to retire in 2019, but the company scrapped a policy requiring CEOs to retire at the age of 65.

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He made headlines in 2017 when he became the first business leader to leave U.S. President Donald Trump’s now disbanded manufacturing council following Trump’s comments on a white nationalist rally held in Charlottesville, Virginia.

The company also forecast 2021 adjusted profit of $6.48 and $6.68 per share, beating estimates of $6.41 per share, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.

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