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Quigley CEO quits following proxy fight

The founder of the maker of Cold-Eeze cold remedies resigned three weeks after shareholders voted out the incumbent board.

The battle for control of the maker of Cold-Eeze lozenges is over.

A federal judge in Philadelphia lifted a temporary restraining order on Friday that was the last thing keeping Quigley Corp.'s chairman, president and CEO in charge.

Guy J. Quigley, who founded the Doylestown company 20 years ago, resigned on Friday more than three weeks after losing a proxy contest led by a New York investor, Ted Karkus.

Karkus had put forward a slate of seven directors, including himself, to replace the entire board of Quigley Corp. Proxy fights are marked by litigation, dueling press releases, allegations and counter-allegations.

In that respect, this one was no different than any other.

But for Guy Quigley, 67, who owns 3.4 million shares, or 25 percent of the company, the sting of losing of control over a company that carries his name was evident in the news release it issued Friday after the stock market had closed.

"Despite everything that has been said and done during the course of this proxy contest, my goal has been and continues to build stockholder value," he said, adding that he was proud of the company's work over the last 20 years.

He couldn't resist counseling the new board to "refrain from rewarding only those who they bring to the table at the 11th hour to profit from the years of work and patience on behalf of the resigning Board, and the stockholders of The Quigley Corporation."

Except there haven't been any annual profits at Quigley since 2005. In 2008, Quigley lost $5.5 million, or 43 cents per share, on net sales of $20.5 million.

First order of business for Karkus and the new board will be to see exactly what they've won control over.

In an interview Friday, Karkus told me he sees potential in the products that Quigley Corp. has in development. But Cold-Eeze should be a higher-margin product, he said, and the company has to return to profitability.

He'll also need to find new management. Besides the resignation of Guy Quigley, Quigley's chief operating officer, Charles A. Phillips, resigned as of May 29.

Shares have fallen since the annual meeting, closing Friday at $4.26, up 26 cents.