GE Healthcare Leader Selected as Medtronic CEO

Omar Ishrak will assume his new position on June 13 and replaces four-year CEO William Hawkins, who is retiring.

A leader of GE Healthcare has been chosen to replace William Hawkins as CEO and chairman of Medtronic, Inc., the company said Wednesday.

Omar Ishrak will assume his new position on June 13. He currently serves as president and CEO of GE Healthcare Systems, a $12 billion division of GE Healthcare that employs 20,000 and operates in 120 countries.

Ishrak, 55, joined GE Healthcare 16 years ago and become its leader in January 2009. He has also held positions at Elbit Ultrasound Group and Philips Ultrasound.

Fridley-based Medtronic said that GE Healthcare experienced strong growth in its clinical systems division and ultrasound business during Ishrak's tenure-and Ishrak boosted the company's performance in emerging markets.

According to a document filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, Ishrak's base salary at Medtronic will be $1.35 million-and he could take home even more than that in performance-based incentives.

Hawkins announced in December that he planned to step down at the end of the 2011 fiscal year, which ended in April. But earlier this month, he sent a memo to employees indicating that he'd stay on the job into the early part of the company's 2012 fiscal year.

Hawkins, 56, joined the medical-device maker in 2002 as senior vice president and president of its vascular business. He quickly worked his way up the ranks, becoming president and chief operating officer in 2004, CEO in 2007, and chairman of the board in 2008. Since becoming CEO, Hawkins has grown the company's annual revenue from $12.3 billion to $15.8 billion.

Ishrak takes the helm at Medtronic at a time when medical device companies are battling difficult market conditions. In February, Medtronic announced that it planned to reduce its global work force by 4 to 5 percent, or 1,500 to 2,000 positions, in an effort “to align its cost structure to current market conditions” and continue to position the company for growth. Last month, the company said that 700 employees accepted voluntary retirement or early separation offers, and 1,700 were laid off, including 268 in the Twin Cities-although approximately 300 of the positions will eventually be refilled.

Medtronic is the world's largest medical device company and Minnesota's seventh-largest public company based on revenue. Its stock was tracing up 0.26 percent at $42.76 mid-morning on Wednesday following news of the leadership transition.