Merck said today's announcement is the result of a long-term, thoughtful succession-planning process led by Clark and the board of directors. Speaking on behalf of Merck's board, William Harrison said, "During the board's succession-planning process, it became clear to us that Ken Frazier has the strategic vision, operational experience and passion to lead Merck."
Frazier rose quickly through the ranks and was appointed president in April 2010. As president, he lead Merck's three major divisions: Merck's pharmaceutical and vaccine business; Merck Manufacturing Division; and Merck's research organization. In 2009, his total compensation was nearly $5.3 million according to Forbes.
Frazier sits on the board of directors of Exxon Mobil (XOM), as well as on several university boards and other associations. He received his bachelor's degree from Pennsylvania State University and holds a J.D. from Harvard Law School.
Merck shares dropped nearly 8% in early premarket trading, but later pared losses. Shares were down nearly 1% an hour before the open.