UPDATE: Cornelius makes Bristol-Myers more valuable

Elevating Jim Cornelius from interim to permanent CEO of Bristol-Myers Squibb Co.  makes the drug giant more expensive for another company to buy, an analyst told Bloomberg.

Michael Krensavage of Raymond James & Associates said this morning’s announcement won’t stop speculation that the New York company could be a takeover target. But Cornelius now is positioned to force a buyer to pay more.

Another analyst, Les Funtleyder of Miller Tabak & Co. in New York, said Bristol-Myers is executing better under Cornelius. “You’re better off with a leader than without a leader,” Fundleyder said.

Cornelius joined Bristol-Myers as interim CEO in September after the company fired CEO Peter Dolan over problems including botching an attempt to keep a generic version of its Plavix blood thinner off the market.

The 63-year-old Zionsville businessman was chairman and CEO of Indianapolis-based Guidant Corp. when the company was sold in April 2006 to Boston Scientific Corp. for $27 billion.

The sale ended a bidding war with Johnson & Johnson of New Brunswick, N.J., that started with $25.4 billion offer from J&J. The sale process was marred when problems with heart devices made by Guidant emerged in 2005.

Cornelius, a former chief financial officer at Eli Lilly and Co., jumped to Guidant when it was spun off from the Indianapolis drugmaker in 1994.

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