"I'm Chairman Now, Too!"

Two days after Pfizer named new CEO Jeff Kindler Chairman of the Board, Merck has promoted its CEO Dick Clark to Chairman as well.

Clark has been on the job a year longer than Kindler, and Merck's stock has performed about three times better than Pfizer shares this year. Former Pfizer CEO Hank McKinnell was expected to remain Chairman through next February, when he will leave the Board altogether, but the directors decided to give Kindler an early Christmas present.

Given the longer and better track record, so far, of Clark, I wonder if he saw the Pfizer news the other day and asked the directors, "So, when do I get to be Chairman?" Since Ray Gilmartin was shown the door at Merck, the Board's Executive Committee has had Chairman-like power while Clark transitioned into the CEO role.

Merck also announced that Larry Bossidy -- one of the key, influential members of that Executive Committee -- will leave the Board next April at the mandatory company retirement age of 72. He will have been a Merck Director for 15 years.

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