* AbbVie spinoff set for Jan 1
* Abbott shares slightly lower after hours
By Bill Berkrot
Sept 27 Abbott Laboratories for years
misstated that the executive handpicked to head its pending
pharmaceutical spinoff held both bachelor's and master's
degrees, and on Thursday called the misinformation "an
Richard Gonzalez, named last October as the future chief
executive of AbbVie once the company splits its drugs and
medical devices businesses, did not complete his college
education or receive a college degree, Abbott said on Thursday.
His company biography had stated that Gonzalez, Abbott's
head of global pharmaceuticals, received degrees from the
University of Houston and the University of Miami.
The credentials flap follows the resignation in May of Yahoo
Inc Chief Executive Scott Thompson after a controversy
over a fake computer science college degree on his biography.
Crain's Chicago Healthcare first reported the Abbott
discrepancy on Thursday, saying the company's regulatory filings
from 2002 through 2007 stated that Gonzalez had a bachelor's
degree from Houston and a master's from Miami, both in
Abbott has since corrected the educational credits in
Gonzalez's biography on its website, which now states that he
was a research biochemist at the University of Miami School of
Medicine and attended the University of Houston, majoring in
"It was an administrative error when the bio was written
many years ago. It wasn't identified right away," Abbott
spokeswoman Melisa Brotz said in a telephone interview.
"The information on the website is correct. When we became
aware of it we corrected it promptly," Brotz said, adding that
the changes were made "quite a while ago."
The company is firmly standing behind Gonzalez, and said
there was no deliberate attempt to overstate his educational
"There is no issue with respect to Mr. Gonzalez's
educational background or his ability to lead AbbVie as
evidenced by his distinguished 30-year career in which he has
reached the highest levels of the company," Brotz said.
Shares of Abbott, which rose 13 cents to close at $69.32 in
regular trading, were slightly lower at $69.06 after hours.
Abbott Chief Executive Miles White selected the 58-year-old
Gonzalez to head up the new company after the spinoff, which is
set for Jan. 1.
White will remain in charge of Abbott, which will retain the
medical devices, diagnostics, nutritionals and branded generics
businesses. AbbVie, with Gonzalez at the helm, will be a
pharmaceutical company with nearly $18 billion in annual
revenue, nearly half coming from the blockbuster rheumatoid
arthritis drug Humira.