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September 5, 2003

Cochlear all ears in search for CEO's successor

From: New Zealand Herald, New Zealand - Sep 5, 2003

MELBOURNE - Cochlear, the world's largest maker of hearing implants, yesterday said chief executive Jack O'Mahony will retire once a successor has been named.

The firm, which has consistently reported profit growth of more than 20 per cent for several years, said an international search had begun and an appointment should be announced within four months.

Cochlear shares sank 2.3 per cent to A$32.65 ($36.64) in a broader market up 0.8 per cent, although analysts said O'Mahony's decision to retire at the end of his three-year commitment was not a big surprise.

"People look for stability, so any departure like this creates some uncertainty in the market's mind," said Smith Barney analyst Andrew Goodsall.

O'Mahony said he now wanted to spend more time sailing and working for charities. After nearly nine years as a chief executive and 31 years in jobs that required a lot of travelling, he had had enough.

"The travel will kill you," he said.

Analysts said O'Mahony's strength was in marketing and building relationships, whereas predecessor Catherine Livingstone's forte was running the business.

"Maybe the next step is to get a blend of the two," said Goodsall.

O'Mahony said the firm should be seeking someone with solid international experience and a good understanding of the interdependence Cochlear had with audiologists, surgeons and speech therapists.

"You've got to have a high degree of altruism."

©Copyright 2003, New Zealand Herald