AbbVie announced longtime CEO Richard Gonzalez will step down and be succeeded by president and chief operating officer Robert Michael.

The pharma giant announced Tuesday morning that Gonzalez will leave the top post on July 1 and become executive chairman of the board of directors. In addition to elevating to the CEO spot, Michael has been appointed to serve as a member of the board of directors.

Gonzalez worked at Abbott for three decades before becoming CEO of AbbVie in 2013. During his more than decade-long tenure at the company, he has turned AbbVie into one of the most vaunted players in the pharmaceutical space.

An industry forecast last year predicted that AbbVie would ascend to become the biggest pharma company in 2028.

As one of the leading executives in the pharma industry, Gonzalez has also been well-compensated for his work. In 2022, he received $26.2 million in total compensation, according to a company financial filing last March. 

In a statement, Gonzalez welcomed the announcement that Michael would replace him, calling it an “opportune time” to hand over the reins as part of a “seamless CEO succession” plan that had been in the works for a while. 

“As a key member of the Executive Leadership Team, he has had a tremendous impact on AbbVie. From establishing our financial planning organization, to the development of our diversified business strategy, to successfully navigating the end of exclusivity for Humira in the U.S., Rob has been integral to AbbVie’s impact since inception,” Gonzalez stated. “Rob has also played an important role in key business development opportunities that have been critical to delivering on our long-term growth strategy, including the acquisitions of Allergan and ImmunoGen and the pending Cerevel Therapeutics transaction. I have known and worked with Rob for many years, and he has the experience, leadership capabilities and strategic vision to accelerate AbbVie’s success well into the future.”

The leadership change was announced less than two weeks after AbbVie released its most recent earnings report, in which worldwide net revenues decreased 5.4% to $14.3 billion. The company was hampered by a 12.3% decrease in immunology revenues as Humira biosimilar competition increased.

Gonzalez’s final full year leading AbbVie was one marked by a flurry of M&A activity, including the $8.7 billion acquisition of Cerevel, a biotech focused on developing treatments for central nervous system disorders and a $10.1 billion acquisition of ImmunoGen, a clinical-stage biotech that manufactures antibody-drug conjugates. 

Just last week, AbbVie lowered its quarterly guidance to reflect the dilutive impact of its closure of the ImmunoGen deal.

AbbVie also acquired neurodegenerative disease specialist Mitokinin, paying shareholders $110 million at closing for the purchase. The deal could grow by another $545 million depending on hitting certain developmental and commercial milestones.

At the start of 2024, the company also struck a pair of exclusive option and license agreements with Umoja Biopharma aimed at developing new CAR-T cancer therapy candidates.

The announcement that Michael is succeeding Gonzalez received some warm sentiment on Wall Street, with the company’s stock ticking up slightly during the early morning trading session.

“I am honored to assume the CEO role for AbbVie, and I am excited about our company’s bright future,” Michael stated. “Rick has been a tremendous leader for AbbVie and mentor to me personally. His legacy at AbbVie will be felt for years to come. I would like to thank the board for expressing its confidence in me, and I look forward to working with Rick and the entire board to deliver results for our patients, our employees, our shareholders and our communities.”