NEW YORK—Robert Zito, who was replaced as head of corporate communications for the New York Stock Exchange earlier this year, has joined pharmaceutical giant Bristol-Myers Squibb as vice president of corporate affairs. He replaces John Skule, who left the company March after 15 years as head of the company’s 45-member corporate communications department.
Zito spent a total of 14 years at the Big Board and was responsible for managing communications during the controversy over the compensation of chief executive Richard Grasso, and was one of several executives with close ties to Grasso who was let go in the wake of the CEO’s departure. He has also held positions at, CN Communications International and Hill & Knowlton.
He will find himself facing another significant challenge at BMS, which has had to deal with its share of turmoil in recent years. The company has been dealing with the fallout from its decision to withdraw several products—colon cancer drugs UFT and Orzel and blood pressure drug Vanlev—from the FDA approval process, as well as concerns about impending generic competition for Taxol and Glucophage. In addition, it recently faced an accounting scandal and ongoing probes by securities regulators and criminal investigators.
“Clearly, there are communications challenges coming,” Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. analyst Richard Evans told the Newark Star-Ledger. “Whether they’re opportunities or controversies is the more difficult call.”