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Tobias to step down in July as Eli Lilly chief executive He will give up chairman post at year's end; Taurel to assume both positions; Pharmaceuticals


INDIANAPOLIS -- Eli Lilly & Co. said yesterday that Randall L. Tobias, 56, will step down as chief executive officer in July and as chairman at the end of the year, five years after he moved from AT&T; Corp. to take charge of the drugmaker.

Sidney Taurel, 49, president and chief operating officer, will take over as chief executive July 1 and become chairman when Tobias steps down.

Lilly, maker of the top-selling anti-depressant Prozac, has been under pressure this year as sales of Evista, its new drug to prevent the bone-thinning disease osteoporosis, have fallen short of expectations.

Lilly has risen 46 percent in the past year, trailing the 60 percent return of the Standard & Poor's drugs index, because of concerns about Evista.

"His departure has nothing to do with Evista," said Hemant Shah, an independent analyst who covers the drug industry. "It's a little surprising only because Tobias is so young."

Lilly's stock has recovered in recent weeks on prospects that Evista, which was introduced in January, may also be effective in preventing breast cancer.

The company's shares fell 25 cents in trading on the New York Stock Exchange yesterday to close at $66.0625.

Edward West, a Lilly spokesman, said Tobias intends to devote more time to his family and to boards he serves on.

Tobias is chairman of the board of trustees at Duke University and serves on the boards of Kimberly-Clark Corp., Phillips Petroleum Co. and Knight-Ridder Inc.

"This is the right time for me to make a transition that I began considering even before I joined Lilly in 1993," Tobias said in a statement.

He informed the Lilly board in December of his decision to retire, the company said.

Tobias was vice chairman at AT&T; Corp. from 1986 to 1993 and chairman and chief executive of the AT&T; International unit.

Pub Date: 5/07/98

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