AstraZeneca hires new chief executive

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ASTRAZENECA has poached a top manager at Roche to be its chief executive, signalling the desire for a fresh direction at the Anglo-Swedish pharmaceutical company following its boardroom shake-up in the spring.

Pascal Soriot (53), a member of the corporate executive committee at Roche of Switzerland, will take over at the start of October from Simon Lowth, AstraZeneca’s chief financial officer who was named interim chief executive after David Brennan left in May.

AstraZeneca had struggled with a series of late-stage failures in its pipeline of experimental medicines, triggering increasing concern from investors at a time of patent expiries on existing products that was rapidly eroding sales and earnings.

The news is a blow to Mr Lowth, who had positioned himself to maintain the leading role with a number of recent pioneering deals and financial innovations.

Mr Soriot, chief executive of Genentech after Roche fully acquired the US biotech company, helping to integrate the two businesses.Daniel O’Day, currently chief operating officer of Roche Diagnostics, will replace Mr Soriot. – Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2012

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