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Unilife names permanent CEO, cuts ties to Shortall

York County-based Unilife Corp.has made its temporary CEO permanent and formed a new executive team that is tasked with bringing back the company from a series of near-ruinous missteps.

John Ryan, who has been interim president and CEO since the company removed founder and former CEO Alan Shortall in March, has been named Unilife’s permanent president and CEO.

In addition, Unilife appears to have severed all ties to Shortall. The company said it has terminated a consulting contract it struck with Shortall after he left in March.

The company also disclosed that Shortall is the former CEO who is being investigated internally over possible violations of company policies. The company also confirmed that former board chairman Jim Bosnjak is the other executive under investigation. 

Other executives, meanwhile, are taking on new roles.

David Hastings , the company’s senior vice president and CFO, will add chief accounting officer to his duties. Hastings will replace Dennis Pyers , who will stay with the company as a senior adviser for special projects.

Ian Hanson, formerly the company’s senior vice president and general manager, will take over as Unilife’s COO.

Unilife also named Stephanie Walters as general counsel and secretary. She has been associate general counsel since 2014. Molly Weaver is now vice president of quality and regulatory affairs and chief compliance officer. She has been Unilife’s general manager since 2011.

Weaver replaces Mark Iampietro, whom the company fired.

The company also announced it has reduced its workforce by 40 percent since the start of the year, bringing the employee count down to 140 between its Conewago Township headquarters and its King of Prussia offices. Last summer, the company had about 270 employees.

Unilife will pay Ryan $450,000 as a base salary. He also is being awarded a $400,000 retention bonus “in recognition of Mr. Ryan’s critical role in the Company’s exploration of strategic alternatives and entry into the strategic collaboration with Amgen,” according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Half of the bonus will be paid immediately, and the other half by Dec. 15, as long as Ryan doesn’t leave the company before then.

Hastings, the CFO, will receive a retention bonus of $300,000. As with Ryan, half will be paid now and the other half on Dec. 15.

In February, Amgen Inc. pledged to invest as much as $75 million in Unilife over a two-year period.

Initial Wall Street reaction to the changes at the company were positive, as the company’s stock jumped almost 10 percent in early trading. Unilife trades it shares on the NASDAQ exchange at the ticker symbol UNIS.

Michael Sadowski

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