UK drug delivery group Skyepharma has appointed a new management team in a bid to fend off continued criticism by disgruntled shareholders.

Frank Condella has been named chief executive and Dr Ken Cunningham becomes chief operating officer, joining Jerry Karabelas who was appointed chairman of the company last week.

The news comes a few weeks after former chairman Ian Gowrie-Smith resigned under pressure from rebel shareholders unhappy with progress at the company since it put itself up for sale last year.

SkyePharma failed to find a buyer for the whole company and has since put its US injectables business on the block, with the aim of retaining its oral and pulmonary drug delivery activities.

Karabelas' appointment infuriated the rebels, who wanted Bob Thian, chairman of filtration specialist Whatman, to take up the role. The group has asked for an extraordinary general meeting to try to force their position.

Frank Condella is a former president of the European operations of generics company IVAX Pharmaceuticals prior to its acquisition by Teva in 2005.

Ken Cunningham was chief executive of the UK biotechnology company Arakis, which was recently bought by Japanese company Sosei for $200 million.

"I hope that the appointment of Frank and Ken will prompt recognition amongst the shareholders who have called for an EGM that they are the best possible team to lead SkyePharma," said Karabelas in a statement.

He also said he hoped they would now 'reconsider their moves to appoint Mr Robert Thian as executive Chairman via an EGM'.