Orthofix International (Nasdaq: OFIX) has named Jim Gero as its new chairman of the board to replace Robert Gaines-Cooper, who will leave by the end of the year for personal reasons and divest most of his shares in the company.

Gero has over 30 years of operating experience in diverse industries, having held previous posts, among others, as chairman and CEO of Sierra Technologies and Sierra Networks. He has also served on numerous boards of public and private enterprises in the fields of medical, technology, telecommunications and aerospace.

Formerly, Gero was a director of American Medical Electronics Inc., a publicly listed company, which was acquired by Orthofix in 1995. He was involved in the merging of the two companies’ operations, and has been a member of the Orthofix Board since 1997.

“Jim, at age 59, with his impressive background and experience and his deep knowledge of our company, represents the perfect choice to guide our continuing growth,” said Gaines-Cooper, the outgoing chairman, “a growth that has already led the company to become the tenth largest in the orthopedic sector.”

Gaines-Cooper, who in 1987 led the buyout of Orthofix when it was a small orthopedic products company with a turnover of $7 million, has guided it to become an international corporation with a market value in excess of $700 million. He will remain as a non-executive director on the board intends. Gaines-Cooper, 67, plans to spend more time with his family and to refocus his activities on a number of new entrepreneurial ventures, the company said in a statement.

For those reasons, Gaines-Cooper and his trust, which together currently own 1.3 million shares of Orthofix, will divest approximately 70 percent of its present holding over the next 18 months. Shares of OFIX, which trade on the Nasdaq, are currently priced around $47.

“Robert’s stewardship of the company has been invaluable. We regret his stepping down, but understand and respect his wish to reorient his life after almost two decades of intense service to the Company,” said Gero. “I look forward to replacing a man of great vision and entrepreneurial talent. I will do my best to follow his exemplary leadership. I am most fortunate that Orthofix has a dedicated board of long standing, which guarantees an exciting future for the company.”

Orthofix: www.orthofix.com