Picker taps new CEO as firm enjoys record year

September 29, 1999

Company plans increased investment in HCISAfter a six-month search, Picker International has named a new CEO. The multimodality vendor has tapped longtime healthcare executive Fred Parks as its new leader.Parks most recently served as president

Company plans increased investment in HCIS

After a six-month search, Picker International has named a new CEO. The multimodality vendor has tapped longtime healthcare executive Fred Parks as its new leader.

Parks most recently served as president and COO of St. Jude Medical, a Minneapolis-based developer of implantable cardiovascular products. Prior to his stint at St. Jude, Parks held a similar position at EC&G, where he led the growth of the Wellesley, MA-based firm’s x-ray, CCD, luminometer, and medical diagnostics operations. He spent two decades at EC&G.

In his new post, Parks will report to Michael Donovan, who had been serving as interim CEO, and is CEO of Picker parent General Electric Company’s Marconi Systems unit. Parks has big shoes to fill at Picker replacing Cary Nolan, who retired in April (SCAN 4/14/99). At the time of his retirement, Nolan was the longest serving medical imaging chief executive, and the firm doubled in size during his 10-year tenure.

In addition, Parks comes to a company that has been active in the last year in both acquisitions and internal restructuring. Just prior to the 1998 RSNA meeting, the vendor completed its acquisition of Elscint’s CT division (SCAN 12/16/98).

Earlier this year, Picker also created a new business unit, Picker Medical Systems, which combined the firm’s equipment, sales, and service operations into one entity (SCAN 4/14/99). Previously, these divisions had operated separately, with different chief executives and lines of reporting.

The company has also formed a dedicated HealthCare Information Systems group, and aggressively added to its Picker Health Care Products distribution arm by buying a number of distributors in recent years (SCAN 2/17/99 and 3/31/99). Most recently, Picker entered the high-end MRI arena with the acquisition of high-field MRI developer Surrey Medical Imaging Systems (SCAN 9/15/99).

These moves are apparently paying off. Picker expects to book record annual financial results this year, Parks said. The company is seeing across-the-board revenue increases, with CT, traditionally the firm’s strongest product line, continuing to provide leadership.

Going forward, one area of increased focus will be investments in the healthcare information systems arena, according to Parks.

“That’s where the market is going, and it’s a natural move for us,” he said.

In addition to the moves it has made, Picker has been the subject of persistent rumors regarding other potential mergers and acquisitions. The rumors heated up earlier this year over comments by GEC chairman George Simpson that the company could be eyeing the medical electronics business of Siemens or Philips (SCAN 2/3/99). GEC was considering using the profits from the sale of its defense businesses to bolster its communications and technology concerns, such as Picker.

Industry observers wondered whether ultrasound vendor Acuson might be a potential target; a deal with that firm would fill a gap in Picker’s multimodality portfolio. GEC’s acquisitions, however, have largely been in the networking and telecommunications realm, easing some of the speculation.

Parks declined to comment on specific companies Picker would consider pursuing, but did say the company does not consider it a priority to diversify into ultrasound. Instead, Picker will be focusing on potential opportunities in the HCIS sector, in a move that’s in line with GEC’s recent activities in networking and telecommunications.

“There are some really exciting opportunities in that market,” Parks said.