When Jorge Gomez was named CFO of Cardinal Health'spharmaceutical division this past February, he was taking charge ofthe finances of an operation about which he already knew a gooddeal. At the time, Gomez was serving as treasurer of its parentcompany, Dublin, Ohio-based Cardinal Health, a $103-billion drugdistribution company, and prior to that, he had been the company'scontroller. The pharmaceutical division accounts for $94 billion ofCardinal Health's revenue.

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“Cardinal Health has a pretty robust rotational program forhelping executives become familiar with various roles in thecompany,” says Gomez, noting that the person he succeeded as CFO ofthe pharmaceutical unit moved into his previous job as corporatetreasurer.

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As treasurer, Gomez led the $5 billion spin-off of CardinalHealth's medical technologies unit, CareFusion. The company decidedthe unit, with $4 billion in sales, was not a good fit with itsstrategic plan: to boost its credit ratings significantly and focusmore on the drug distribution business, while increasing thecompany's dividend and making it more of a value, growth and incomeplay for investors at the same time.

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Improving the rating agencies' assessments of the parentcompany and spinning off a business in the midst of the financialcrisis clearly posed challenges.

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“2009 was not a great year to be doing an IPO,” Gomez concedeswith a laugh. “But we and our advisers were pretty confident wecould execute the deal, and we did it. It was very well received byinvestors.”

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In fact, rather than selling 100% ofCareFusion for $5 billion, Cardinal Health ended up selling 80% ofthe new company's shares and holding onto 20%. Since the deal wascompleted, shares of both CareFusion and Cardinal have risen by30%.

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Gomez says the key to working with the rating agencies wasproviding “good transparency” in explaining the company's financialstrategy. “I walked them all through the key elements of ourstrategy in terms of the ratings we aspired to, in terms of totalreturns,” he says. “We had set two- and three-year targets, and wemet them.”

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By July 2010, Standard & Poor's had boosted its outlook onCardinal Health's BBB+ rating from stable to positive, afterMoody's did the same two months earlier. In July 2011, S&Pupped its long-term debt rating from BBB+ to A-, and earlier thisyear Moody's raised the company's long-term debt rating to Baa2from Baa3.

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Looking ahead, Gomez says the big challenge will be dealing withthe significant changes facing the healthcare industry as theAmerican population ages, the nation struggles with maintainingaffordable healthcare, and companies like Cardinal Health work todeal with the new healthcare law reform.

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“The Supreme Court decision upholding the Affordable Care Actwas a step in the right direction towards more clarity,” Gomezsays. “Of course, it will take some time for it all to settledown.”

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See Treasury & Risk's 2012 100 Most Influential Peoplein Finance list here.

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See a slideshow of the finance pros on this year's listhere, and complete coverage of the list here.

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