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Bioniche taps industry veteran Berendt as new CEO

Bioniche announced Monday that industry veteran Michael Berendt will take over as CEO from Graeme McRae, who is seen in this file photo.

Michelle Siu/The Globe and Mail

Canadian biotech company Bioniche Life Sciences Inc. has hired a veteran of the life-sciences industry as its new chief executive officer.

Bioniche said on Monday that Michael Berendt, former president and CEO of Montreal-based Aegera Therapeutics Inc., is to take over immediately from Graeme McRae.

The appointment of a new CEO to replace Mr. McRae is part of a compromise agreement reached in September between the company and its dissident shareholders.

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Terms of the deal include an overhaul of the board of directors as well as the sale of animal health division.

The two dissident shareholders – former Biovail Inc. CEO Bill Wells and his business partner Greg Gubitz –have agreed to back the sale of the animal health unit, which sells such products as vaccines for horses and cattle and cat-and-dog health treatments.

Mr. Wells and Mr. Gubitz had previously opposed to the sale of the division, which they argued provided all of the company's revenue and positive cash flow. In contrast, they said, the human health part of the business produces no revenue and is not a promising avenue for growth.

"The Board of Directors, management team, employees and shareholders acknowledge Graeme's significant contribution, while welcoming Dr. Berendt to the Bioniche team," Bioniche chairman James Rae said in a news release.

Mr. Berendt has held positions in the research departments of pharmaceutical giants Pfizer Inc. and Bayer Corp. He was also managing director of the life sciences sector at AEA Investors and managing director of Research Corporation Technologies. He became president and CEO of Aegera in 2006.

Mr. McRae is taking on the position of founder and chairman emeritus of Bellevile, Ont.-based Bioniche's board.

The new slate of directors is to be presented at Bioniche's special meeting of shareholders Tuesday.

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About the Author
Quebec Business Correspondent

Bertrand has been covering Quebec business and finance since 2000. Before joining The Globe and Mail in 2000, he was the Toronto-based national business correspondent for Southam News. He has a B.A. from McGill University and a Bachelor of Applied Arts from Ryerson. More

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