J&J picks Bayer executive Peterson as group worldwide chairman

NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J., Thu Sep 13, 2012 – Johnson & Johnson said Sandra Peterson, currently a Bayer executive, will take on the new role of group worldwide chairman, overseeing a consent decree at the company’s troubled manufacturing plants that produce over-the-counter drugs.

Beginning Dec. 1, Peterson will oversee information technology and the global supply chain, as well as J&J’s vast consumer business, which makes products including Tylenol, baby shampoo and Band-Aids, the company said on Thursday.

Peterson, 52, will also become a member of the J&J executive committee, the company said.

Shares of J&J were up 9 cents at $68.24 in early trading on the New York Stock Exchange.

J&J’s McNeil Consumer Healthcare has been operating under a consent decree after three of its manufacturing plants failed to curb quality lapses that had sparked a flood of recalls for its nonprescription medicines, such as Tylenol painkiller.

Over the past couple of years, faulty manufacturing has prompted J&J’s McNeil unit to recall millions of bottles and packages of Tylenol, Motrin, Rolaids, Benadryl and other products. Some of these recalls affected the company’s distribution worldwide.

Peterson is chairman and chief executive officer of Bayer AG affiliate Bayer CropScience AG, based in Europe, a position she has held since 2010. Before that, she was president and CEO of Bayer Medical Care and president of Bayer HealthCare AG’s Diabetes Care Division.

Prior to joining Bayer in 2005, Peterson spent 5 years in leadership roles at Medco Health Solutions.

Buffett says may consider selling J&J stock

OMAHA, Neb. – Berkshire Hathaway Inc. is holding onto its Johnson & Johnson stake for now but may consider selling it, given the company’s recent problems, Berkshire chief Warren Buffett said on Monday.

J&J “obviously has messed up in a lot of ways in the last few years,” Buffett said in a CNBC interview, adding it was not clear why. The healthcare giant has issued a series of massive recalls of products ranging from artificial hips to infant Tylenol.

Buffett said J&J remains an attractive business at its price but would be on his sell list if he needed capital.

Berkshire owned 31.4 million J&J shares as of Dec. 31, about a 1.2 percent stake. Buffett has listed J&J as one of Berkshire’s biggest investments by valuation since 2006.

J&J recently announced that William Weldon will retire as chief executive in April and will be succeeded by Alex Gorsky, currently vice chairman of the Medical Device and Diagnostics Group.

Gorsky will be J&J’s ninth top executive, all of them chosen from inside the company. Some investors say his expertise in medical devices helped him secure the top job, but they question whether yet another insider at the 125-year-old company will be able to make needed changes.