Illumina announced Tuesday morning that it has picked a new CEO after a rocky summer.
Joining Illumina from Agilent Technologies is Jacob Thaysen, who will helm the company as a permanent replacement to Francis deSouza.
Following a proxy battle with activist investor Carl Icahn earlier this year, deSouza resigned as CEO in June.
Thaysen most recently served as SVP at Agilent, as well as president of its life sciences and applied markets group.
While at the company, he spearheaded the “transformation of the analytical lab with a focus on implementing a complete digital laboratory ecosystem,” Illumina noted in a press release.
“After conducting a robust search process, we are thrilled to have found someone of Jacob’s caliber to become chief executive of Illumina and help shape and lead the company into its next phase of growth,” Stephen MacMillan, chair of the board at Illumina, said in a statement.
MacMillan pointed to Thaysen’s “deep technological and commercial experience” and added that he will bring a “fresh perspective, a demonstrated track record driving profitable growth and a strong commitment to create value for” Illumina’s stakeholders.
Thaysen will officially step into the role on September 25, at which point interim CEO Charles Dadswell will return to his previous position as SVP and general counsel at the company.
The appointment of Thaysen caps off a turbulent few months for Illumina following a proxy battle with Icahn that began two years ago.
In 2021, Illumina acquired cancer diagnostics company Grail in a controversial $7.1 billion deal – despite not receiving approval from U.S. and European Union antitrust regulators.
Earlier this year, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) issued an opinion and order requiring Illumina to divest Grial, arguing that the acquisition “would stifle competition and innovation in the U.S. market for life-saving cancer tests.”
Icahn sought to push out deSouza after he forged ahead with the Grail deal, leading to a drop in Illumina’s stock.
In a tweet following deSouza’s resignation in June, Icahn noted “the new additions to the board, the CEO transition, as well as the change of the chairman, are significant positives that should drive value for all stakeholders and human health.”
Just weeks after deSouza’s departure, however, Illumina began laying off staff as part of its efforts to decrease costs by $100 million and achieve “sustainable long-term growth.”
Thaysen faces a hefty task as Illumina’s CEO – determining the next steps in the company’s fight against the FTC and European Commission’s orders to unwind the Grail acquisition.
In June, Illumina appealed the orders and made four constitutional arguments challenging the FTC, though a final decision is not likely to be set until later this year or 2024.
Illumina did not comment on the state of the acquisition in the announcement.