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Medtronic hires new Chief Financial Officer

May 5, 2016
Life sciences

Medtronic PLC has hired Karen L. Parkhill as its new chief financial officer, recruiting her from the same role at Comerica Inc.

Medtronic said Wednesday that Ms. Parkhill would fill the CFO post, after The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday that Ms. Parkhill had been hired away. She will start in the role June 20.

Comerica, a Dallas-based financial-services company, disclosed Tuesday that Ms. Parkhill had resigned as its vice chairman and CFO “to pursue other opportunities.’’ She is 50 years old, according to Comerica’s latest proxy statement.

Ms. Parkhill will take over the top finance job from Gary Ellis, who helped orchestrate Medtronic’s recent acquisition of Covidien and has been its CFO since 2005. Mr. Ellis will retire from Medtronic, which sells medical devices and surgical tools, in 2017. He will remain on the company’s executive committee and help with the transition of the job to Ms. Parkhill. He will also “lead the other key functions within his portfolio of responsibilities until his retirement,” the company said.

In January 2015, Medtronic closed its $50 billion acquisition of Dublin-based Covidien. That deal allowed Medtronic to move its corporate headquarters from Minneapolis to Dublin through an inversion, a technique aimed at lowering the company’s tax burden.

Mr. Ellis has been involved in Medtronic’s efforts to take advantage of its new inverted status to transfer some of its overseas cash to the U.S. at lower tax rates than it would otherwise have paid.

Things are in “good order for the company,” so this may be a good time for Mr. Ellis to step down, said Debbie Wang, a Morningstar Inc. analyst. “Medtronic would be in good standing to do the kind of serial acquisitions that they do to augment internal innovation.”

Medtronic becomes the latest big business to fill the top role with an executive experienced at investment banking. Such executives often offer strong strategic skills.

Before Ms. Parkhill joined Comerica in 2011, she worked for J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. Her roles there included a stint in its investment bank.

Among the investment-banking veterans to don a finance chief’s hat recently was Ruth Porat, now CFO of Alphabet Inc., Google’s parent. She came to the Silicon Valley giant as finance chief in May 2015 from Morgan Stanley.

With Ms. Parkhill’s departure, Comerica named David Duprey, executive vice president and general auditor, as its new CFO, effective immediately, the company’s announcement said.

By Joann S. Lublin

Source: Wall Street Journal

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