AstraZeneca Plc (AZN) named Pascal Soriot, Roche Holding AG (ROG)’s head of pharmaceuticals, as chief executive officer.
Soriot, 53, will join the U.K.’s second-biggest drugmaker on Oct. 1, AstraZeneca said in a statement today. He replaces David Brennan, who retired June 1 amid drug development setbacks and slower growth as the company’s biggest-selling medicines lose patent exclusivity and face generic competition. Simon Lowth, who has been interim CEO, will return to his position as chief financial officer.
Soriot joins the London-based drugmaker as it searches for licensing deals, partnerships and acquisitions of late-stage assets to replenish the pipeline and boost sales.
“No one is blind to the challenges that confront the pharmaceutical sector and this company, but the underlying strengths of AstraZeneca in delivering on its strategy are clear,” Soriot said in the statement. “AstraZeneca will continue to make a positive difference to patients over the longer term and I’m looking forward to playing my part in shaping that future.”
AstraZeneca agreed July 1 to pay Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. $3.4 billion to co-develop the diabetes drugs portfolio of Amylin Pharmaceuticals Inc., which Bristol acquired for $5.3 billion. Talks with Bristol about sharing diabetes development started in April under Brennan, Shaun Grady, AstraZeneca’s head of business development, said in an interview July 5.
Lowth said April 26 the company would stick to smaller acquisitions until the board reviews its strategy.
Moody’s Investors Service changed its outlook on AstraZeneca’s A1 debt rating on July 4 to negative from stable and said the company’s share buybacks and acquisitions, which have totaled $4.6 billion this year, will weigh on its financial condition.
“In Moody’s view, AstraZeneca will need to pursue an active acquisition strategy to offset the effects of patent expiries and return to revenue and cash flow growth, which may further erode its financial profile,” the credit-rating company said in the statement.
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