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Edwards Lifesciences CFO To Retire; Board Approves New $750 Mln Share Buyback

Medical devices maker Edwards Lifesciences Corp. (EW: Quote) said Tuesday that Chief Financial Officer Thomas Abate plans to retire later this year. In addition, the company said its board of directors has authorized a new $750 million share repurchase program, while CEO Michael Mussallem will purchase $5 million in Edwards stock.

Irvine, California-based Edwards Lifesciences has retained Peter Crist of Crist/Kolder Associates to assist in the search for a new CFO. Abate, who turns 60 in August, plans to remain CFO until his successor is in place.

Abate became Edwards' CFO in January 2006. Previously, he was the company's vice president and controller, a position he had held since Edwards became an independent company. In the 18 years prior to that, Abate served with Baxter in other finance-related positions.

Michael Mussallem, Chairman and CEO of Edwards said, "Tom has had a very productive 31-year career with our company, and I want to thank him for his many significant contributions to our success. Tom played an important role in establishing Edwards as a standalone company following our spinoff from Baxter Healthcare Corporation in 2000."

Edwards' board has authorized a new share repurchase program to acquire up to an additional $750 million of the company's outstanding common shares.

As of March 31, 2013, Edwards had about $140 million remaining of its current $500 million share repurchase program that was authorized in September 2011. The company expects to utilize the remainder of the $500 million repurchase authorization during the second quarter of 2013.

Further, Edwards said that CEO Mussallem will make a $5 million cash purchase of newly issued shares of the company's common stock.

Under a subscription agreement approved on Monday by the company's board of directors, Mussallem will purchase the shares on Wednesday, May 15, at either the share price that is equal to the closing price on that day, or at a share price equal to the average closing price for the 10 trading days ending May 13, whichever is higher.

The common stock purchased by Mussallem in this transaction will be issued under a private placement. Not including this purchase, Mussallem currently holds 322,952 Edwards shares outright.

Mussallem said, "The Board of Directors' authorization of the new share repurchase program reaffirms our belief in Edwards' long-term growth potential, and provides us with an opportunity to continue returning value to shareholders. On an individual basis, I'm making this increased investment in Edwards to demonstrate my confidence in the future growth of the company and its continuing ability to aggressively develop innovative products and extend its leadership positions."

In Tuesday's regular trading session, EW is trading at $69.33, up $2.00 or 2.96 percent on a volume of 583,535 shares.

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by RTT Staff Writer

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