Sigma-Aldrich reshuffles after death of its leader

ST. LOUIS (AP) — Billion-dollar biochemicals interest Sigma-Aldrich Corp. introduced its shuffled executive staff Monday as it mourned the weekend death of its leader, who spent more than three decades with the company.

The St. Louis-based company said Jai Nagarkatti, 63, died of a heart attack Saturday.

Nagarkatti, who worked for the company for 34 years, had been Sigma-Aldrich’s president and chief operating officer since 2004, CEO since 2006 and board chairman since last year.

The 7,700-worker company, which develops and markets biochemical and organic chemical products and kits used in research, quickly filled the voids, rolling out a succession plan crafted over the past year and promoting chief financial officer Rakesh Sachdev as president and CEO. Sachdev also was elected to the company’s board.

Barrett Toan, the board’s presiding director, was chosen to be chairman, and Kirk Richter was tapped to be Sachdev’s interim replacement as chief financial officer while continuing to serve as vice president and treasurer of the company, which operates in 40 countries.

“While it’s hard to transition at a time like this, that’s what good companies do,” Toan said during a conference call with analysts, many of whom spent the question-and-answer portion to offer condolences about Nagarkatti, the man Toan eulogized as “a great leader and a good friend.”

Beyond the executive shuffling, Toan said, “no major changes are expected in the organization at this time” in terms of Sigma-Aldrich’s operations.

Sachdev, 54, lately served as chief financial officer, chief administrative officer and senior vice president of the company’s international interests. He joined the company in 2008 after holding various top-level management positions at Michigan-based auto supplier ArvinMeritor.

Sachdev has an MBA from Indiana University, a master’s degree in engineering from the University of Illinois, and a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology in New Dehli.

Toan, 63, has been on Sigma-Aldrich’s board since 2001. He served as chairman of Express Scripts — a St. Louis-based pharmacy benefits manager — from 1996 to 2006 and as that company’s CEO for 16 years until 2005.

Richter, a 64-year-old certified public accountant, joined the company in 1978 and has been vice president and treasurer for 11 years, having previously served as corporate controller.

Last month, Sigma-Aldrich announced that its third-quarter net income grew 8 percent to a better-than-expected $93 million, aided by sales from its chemicals and research products units. Revenue rose to $563 million during the July-through-September period, from $534 million during the same period last year.

The company said it expects to earn between $3.20 and $3.28 in 2010, up from prior guidance of $3.05 to $3.20 per share. The estimates exclude restructuring and impairment charges. Analysts expect $3.14 per share in profit.


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