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Hologic CEO says he's staying amid speculation of an Illumina move

Hologic CEO Stephen MacMillan. Photo: Noam Galai/Getty Images

Hologic CEO Stephen MacMillan said he is staying put, addressing speculation that he may de-camp to take the same role at Illumina. Illumina appointed him to the board in June, and is currently searching for a CEO.

Why it matters: MacMillan's tamping down of new-job rumors means a respected and logical CEO candidate for Illumina is officially off the table.

Details: "I'm at Hologic through the end of my useful life," MacMillan said in a Q&A response during yesterday's Hologic analyst call.

  • Nephron research analyst Jack Meehan asked MacMillan during Hologic's third-quarter earnings call about his ongoing commitment to Hologic as CEO and chairman after joining Illumina as its chairman.
  • "So the #1 question I've been getting on Hologic is actually related to Illumina," Meehan said during Q&A.
  • MacMillan's response: "Over there, it's going to be about also just getting a great CEO in place. And we're making a couple of key decisions there, which are probably pretty obvious. And then it's going to be a normal chairmanship from there."

Context: Illumina CEO Francis deSouza resigned in June and remained an adviser until yesterday.

  • deSouza's resignation capped a tumultuous year for the executive, who came under attack from investor Carl Icahn. The activist hedge fund manager wanted deSouza to divest the Grail business that Illumina had acquired.
  • Icahn took Illumina all the way to a shareholder vote, where two of the activist's nominees failed to win a board seat — though a third nominee was voted onto the board, setting the stage for MacMillan to be appointed later as chairman.

What they're saying: Gordon Haskett analyst Don Bilson noted the MacMillan speculation in a note on Tuesday by saying that both Hologic and Illumina are two large healthcare companies and that MacMillan lives in San Diego — the same city where the Illumina CEO role would be based.

  • Bilson also said that Icahn is apparently a fan of MacMillan's and has a long history with him.
  • "That fan better get used to being disappointed because MacMillan, unless he is totally blowing smoke, is focused on finding someone other than himself to run ILMN," Bilson wrote.
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