WASHINGTON (AP) — The outgoing chief executive of Medtronic told employees Monday he will continue to lead the medical device manufacturer as its board of directors continues the search for a replacement.

Minneapolis-based Medtronic previously announced that Hawkins would step down on April 29, the close of the company’s fiscal year. In a note to employees, Hawkins said the board is making “excellent progress,” but has not yet found a successor.

“To ensure a smooth leadership transition I will continue to serve as chairman and CEO until my successor is named,” Hawkins stated.

Analysts expect Medtronic to select a new CEO with medical device industry experience.

Hawkin’s tenure leading the world’s largest device maker has been characterized by sluggish sales and a falling stock price. Shares of the company have fallen more than 20 percent since Hawkins took the reins in August 2007.

The company’s business has been hurt by tighter hospital budgets and the loss of health insurance for many U.S. workers. For the current year, company executives expect the global market for devices to increase just 2 to 3 percent.

In February Medtronic announced it would lay off up to 2,000 workers as part of a restructuring effort to make up for anemic sales of its implants. The company said the cuts aimed to achieve “long-term sustainable growth” and would reduce its 41,000-person work force by 4 to 5 percent.

Shares of Medtronic Inc. rose 49 cents to $42.25 in morning trading.

(© Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)


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