SurModics Names New CEO, May Sell Pharma Biz

Gary R. Maharaj will lead the company as it explores strategic alternatives for its pharmaceutical business, including a possible sale.

Eden Prairie-based SurModics, Inc., announced Tuesday that it has appointed Gary R. Maharaj as its CEO and will explore strategic options for its pharmaceutical business, including a possible sale.

Maharaj most recently served as president and CEO of Arizant, Inc., and will replace Philip D. Ankeny. Arizant manufactures products designed to warm patients in surgical settings in order to prevent hypothermia. It was acquired by Maplewood-based 3M Company in September.

Ankeny has served as SurModics' interim CEO since June 1 when the company's CEO of five years, Bruce J. Barclay, resigned in order to take the helm at Mountain View, California-based Hansen Medical, Inc. He will continue to serve as the company's senior vice president and chief financial officer.

One of Maharaj's first tasks as CEO will be determining the future of the company's pharmaceutical business, which was formed with the acquisition of Brookwood Pharmaceuticals in July 2007.

SurModics' pharmaceutical business includes microparticle and biodegradable implant drug delivery technologies, a current good manufacturing practices (cGMP) manufacturing facility in Birmingham, Alabama, and several biodegradable polymers marketed under the Lakeshore Biomaterials brand.

The company's board said in a statement that its pharmaceutical business has potential for growth, but the company would benefit more from putting its resources and efforts into pursuing opportunities and investments in its medical device and in vitro diagnostics businesses.

In other SurModics news, the company's largest shareholder-Ramius Value and Opportunity Advisors, LLC-officially nominated three candidates for the company's board of directors on Monday. The nominations came a month after Ramius submitted a letter to SurModics announcing that it was seeking board positions due to the company's “long-term underperformance.”

The company has had a tough year in 2010. For its fiscal year that ended on September 30, the company reported $69.9 million in revenue-down 42.5 percent from $121.5 million in the prior fiscal year.

SurModics, founded in 1979, provides drug-delivery and surface-modification technologies and in vitro diagnostic test kits to the health care industry.