NEWSMAKER-Often criticized, Valeant's unusual CEO comes under heavy fire

Wed Oct 21, 2015 4:39pm EDT
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By Rod Nickel

Oct 21 (Reuters) - Mike Pearson's methods heading one of the world's most acquisitive drugmakers have long been viewed as troubling to some, merely unorthodox to others.

The chief executive officer of Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc has led the company since 2008. During most of his tenure, Valeant was a stock-market winner - until this year.

Shares of Laval, Quebec-based Valeant plunged as much as 40 percent on Wednesday, before partly recovering, after short-seller Citron Research accused it of fraud. Valeant "categorically" denied the allegations.

It was the latest blow to a company whose pricing practices and patient assistance programs are also under investigation by federal prosecutors.

The stock drop erased almost $10 billion in market capitalization and marked a career nadir for Pearson, whose approach at Valeant has never strayed far from controversy.

Pearson grew up in a family of modest means in London, Ontario, the son of a phone installer who sacrificed to send his son to prestigious Duke University, according to the Globe and Mail in 2013.

Early on, Pearson revealed himself as someone willing to work hard to achieve. As a youth, he joined the Boy Scouts and rose to Eagle Scout, the organization's highest rank.

The hard work carried into the head office. The former consultant at McKinsey & Co took the Valeant helm and started by simplifying the number of businesses and countries Valeant operated in.   Continued...