- International Flavors & Fragrance's new CEO will be Frank Clyburn, pharmaceutical giant Merck's current executive vice president and president of human health. Clyburn, who currently has profit and loss responsibility for nearly 90% of Merck's $48 billion business, will be starting at IFF on Feb. 14.
- Clyburn, who has been with Merck since 2008, spent the majority of his career working at health tech and pharmaceutical companies. He built Merck's oncology business, which is now the company's largest business unit, and helped integrate pharmaceutical company Schering-Plough after its $41.1 billion merger with Merck in 2009.
- With IFF working on integrating units that came through its $26.2 billion megamerger with the former DuPont Nutrition and Biosciences last February, as well as right-sizing and targeting its business through divestments, Clyburn will have many opportunities to shape the global ingredients giant. He's also the second new executive at IFF in the last several months — Executive Vice President and CFO Glenn Richter joined IFF from financial services provider TIAA in late September.
With a huge merger to integrate, new possibilities ahead and increased scrutiny from investors, a seasoned executive like Clyburn seems like the type of person to bring the needed skills and experience to help the company through a transitional period.
“Frank is the best executive to lead IFF into its next chapter at the pace we need," Director Dale Morrison said in the statement announcing Clyburn's hire. "His strong operating experience plus his hands-on approach and customer-centric perspective will accelerate the execution of IFF’s strategic and operating priorities.”
Once considered a top contender for Merck's CEO job, Clyburn will be able to use his experience in business development and integration to help IFF best use the opportunities before it. Following IFF's acquisition of the former DuPont unit, the company shared big plans to devise integrated solutions for customers, invest deeply in R&D, and develop more key businesses in its ingredients division.
At Merck, Clyburn has shown his acumen in taking advantage of opportunity. He helped create the company's global oncology unit and ran it from 2013 to 2018. In that time period, Merck's cancer immunotherapy Keytruda received FDA approval. According to BioPharma Dive, Keytruda is currently approved by the FDA for 18 types of cancer in the U.S. and accounted for more than a third of Merck's $35 billion in sales over the first nine months of 2021.
Right now is a crucial time for IFF's business arm to correct itself. The company's stock prices jumped on Thursday, coinciding with both the announcement of Clyburn's hiring and a CNBC report that activist investor Carl Icahn owns a 4% stake in IFF. While the report is unconfirmed, IFF has attracted other activist investors in the past. Sachem Head Capital Management bought a $1 billion stake in the company last February, with Managing Partner Scott Ferguson wanting to ensure that IFF improves its financial performance and smoothly integrate the former DuPont business. In March, IFF gave Ferguson a seat on its board, increasing its number of directors by one.
It's unclear what Icahn may want through a stake in IFF, but someone like Clyburn may be able to deliver. When he takes the helm of IFF next month, not only is Clyburn working with a fairly new CFO as well as newer heads of IFF's Nourish and Scent divisions, but he's also entering a somewhat revamped CEO role. Andreas Fibig, who will be formally exiting his role as CEO once Clyburn takes over, had also served as the chairman of IFF's board. Clyburn will not lead the board, but he'll be a member. Morrison will become the non-executive board chair.