Management shake-up continues at Guilford Pharmaceuticals

April 21, 2005|By Tricia Bishop | Tricia Bishop,SUN STAFF

Corporate turbulence in the pharmaceutical industry has nudged some workers to the emerging world of biotechnology, which isn't immune from shake-ups either.

Guilford Pharmaceuticals Inc. revealed yesterday in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission that it had let go Nancy J. Linck, its general counsel and senior vice president in charge of intellectual property and regulatory affairs.

She is the latest in a line of Guilford executives to leave in the past year. Guilford's new chief executive officer, Dean J. Mitchell, and Chief Financial Officer William F. Spengler, both of whom came to the company from pharmaceutical backgrounds, recently announced plans to retool the business to make it profitable.

"It was indeed part of the reorganization," Guilford spokeswoman Stacey Jurchison said yesterday of the Linck announcement. Jurchison said the position has been eliminated.

A former U.S. patent attorney who started at Guilford in 1998, Linck entered into a "separation agreement" with the Baltimore biotechnology company April 14, stating that her employment would end effective yesterday afternoon, according to the filing.

She will retain her company laptop and receive $264,805 in severance pay and $17,288 to make up for unused vacation time, the agreement said. Guilford's agreement with her also says the company will reimburse her for $5,000 in tax-preparation fees for 2004 and 2005 and provide "outplacement support" for one year.

Her 2004 salary of $257,553 and bonus of $45,000 placed her among Guilford's top five executives.

Reached at home yesterday afternoon, Linck said she couldn't comment.

In the past year, Guilford's executive management team has almost completely turned over.

In May, Chief Financial Officer Andrew R. Jordan resigned and was replaced by Spengler. In September, Guilford's CEO and co-founder, Craig R. Smith, announced his resignation and was later replaced by Mitchell. Margaret M. Contessa, senior vice president for human resources, left in December, and Thomas C. Seoh, senior vice president for corporate and commercial development, left in March.

Last week, Guilford also announced an "employee retention plan" that offers bonuses to 48 employees defined by Mitchell as "mission critical." Specified nonexecutive employees will receive bonuses of 10 percent to 25 percent of their annual salaries if they stay with the company through Dec. 6. Executives eligible for retention bonuses must stay with the company through April 6, 2006.

"There's a sense of urgency" now that a new strategy has been announced, Mitchell said last week. "Now it is all about how quick we can make stuff happen."

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