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AstraZeneca hires Roche’s Pascal Soriot as CEO

Becomes permanent replacement for David Brennan

Pascal Soriot - AstraZeneca CEO
Pascal Soriot, CEO of AstraZeneca

Pascal Soriot will leave Roche to become David Brennan's permanent replacement as CEO at rival pharma firm AstraZeneca on October 1, 2012.

Soriot, who had been chief operating officer at Roche since 2010, takes control of AZ at a troubled time for the company, with shareholder pressure caused by poor financial performance and a series of clinical trial failures leading to the departure of AZ's previous CEO Brennan in April, 2012.

These are issues that can be overcome, according to Soriot, who commented: “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.

“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.”

Soriot's words are backed by a strong track record in innovation, something that AZ has fallen behind on compared to many of its rivals.

This includes his time as CEO of biotech Genentech during 2009, where he led the company's $46.8bn integration with Roche. This merger has spawned such drugs as cancer treatments Avastin, Herceptin and Zelboraf, and is deemed to be one of the more successful pharma deals of recent years, while during that time AZ has faced criticism for expensive deals that have produced little results, such as its $15bn acquisition of MedImmune.

“I am confident that Pascal's approach and his track record of delivering results in innovation-driven businesses will be valued by shareholders and employees alike,” said Leif Johansson, chair of AZ.

In addition to his most recent roles at Genentech and Roche, Soriot held several senior roles at different pharma companies across the US, Europe, Australasia and Asia since joining the industry in 1986.

This includes serving as chief operating officer at Aventis USA from 2002 to 2006, and senior VP head of global marketing and medical affairs at Aventis Bridgewater from 2000 to 2002.

And during the 1990s, he held such positions as regional vice president Asia Pacific for Hoechst Marion Roussel and general manager of Hoechst Marion Roussel Australia.

Since Brennan's departure in April, chief financial officer Simon Lowth has been acting as interim CEO at AZ. He will resume his previous responsibilities once Soriot joins in October.

At Roche, Daniel O'Day, currently chief operating officer Roche Diagnostics has been appointed as Soriot's replacement as chief operating officer of Roche Pharma effective September 1, 2012.

O'Day will be succeeded by Roland Diggelmann, currently head of the Asia-Pacific region within Roche Diagnostics.

28th August 2012

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