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Phil Frost, 63, is chairman and chief executive at Ivax Corp. In other words, he is the man at the Miami drug company — but not to the degree he used to be. In what seems to be a step toward depersonalizing Ivax, the company two years ago appointed Neil Flanzraich president and vice chairman. During the high-profile court battle with drug giant Bristol-Myers Squibb, Flanzraich was the face of Ivax. So is Flanzraich being groomed to become Frost’s successor? “It’s inappropriate to talk about that now,” says Flanzraich, who is seven years younger than Frost. “Dr. Frost is very dynamic, and he’s here to stay.” Indeed, most observers agree that Frost isn’t leaving anytime soon. “I don’t think Phil Frost is going anywhere,” says Jay Shapiro, a former in-house counsel for Ivax and now an attorney with Stearns Weaver. Still, Flanzraich’s influence at the 13-year-old company makes for quite a change from, say, five years ago, when the names Frost and Ivax were almost synonymous, and the company changed top executives frequently. Two company presidents came and left in 1996 and 1997, a time of massive losses and strained relations between Wall Street and Ivax. During those years, the company laid off 4,400 employees and sold noncore businesses. Now the company has clearly recovered and is in its sixth consecutive profitable quarter. But the turnover in the heir-apparent job wasn’t due to Frost’s personality, Shapiro says. For example, former chief operating officer Rick Pfenniger “went along just fine with Phil,” Shapiro says, pointing out that Pfenniger is now at the helm of Whitman Education Group, another company started by Frost. “After Rick stepped down as COO, there were a couple of folks coming through,” he adds. “I don’t think there was any personality issue.” The tandem approach to leadership may continue for quite some time, says Flanzraich. “That’s the vehicle of the future,” he says, adding that the two men have developed a friendship that goes beyond the office. So who’s pedaling, who’s steering? The division of work between the two men is hard to define, Flanzraich says. The largest strategic decisions — the company is run in a very centralized way from Miami — are made by both men, according to Shapiro. Most observers agree that Flanzraich’s strengths are in the operational and legal areas of the business (he has a Harvard law degree), while Frost’s forte is in medical, pharmaceutical and international trade. Analyst Edward Tavlin of Fahnestock & Co. describes Frost as the “outside man” and Flanzraich as the “inside man.” “Ivax is doing business in England, Eastern Europe, China, you name it,” Tavlin says. “And wherever you go, people want to do business with Phil Frost.” “Frost is certainly not thinking of retirement at all,” Tavlin adds. “He continues to be quite involved, not only as chairman. He knows everything that’s going on at the company.” Alina Matas assisted on this story.

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