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AstraZeneca CFO to join Goldman Sachs

AstraZeneca has announced the resignation of its CFO, Jon Symonds, with effect from the end of July 2007.

AstraZeneca (AZ) has revealed the resignation of its CFO, Jon Symonds, with effect from the end of July 2007.

Symonds joined Zeneca in 1997 as CFO after 17 years at KPMG. He was involved in the merger negotiations with Swedish pharmaceutical company, Astra. After completion of the merger in 1998, he was appointed as CFO for AZ.

Symonds will join global investment banking, securities and investment management firm Goldman Sachs in September 2007 as a managing director.

"Jon has played a critical role in driving AstraZeneca to become one of the leading, most focused and most successful pharmaceutical companies in the world. On a personal level, I have worked closely with him for several years and have valued his knowledge of the business, strategic thinking, and wise financial counsel enormously," said David Brennan, CEO of AZ.

According to the Financial Times (FT), Symonds will earn more at his new position than he did at AZ. It adds that the timing of his departure, just when AZ had completed the controversial acquisition of MedImmune, has taken the company by surprise.
Brennan has been AZ's CEO for only 18 months and has insisted that the MedImmune deal will be "transformational" for the UK's second-largest pharmaceutical firm.

Despite the positive spin, City of London analysts have serious doubts about the current value of AZ, which spent GBP 7.6bn on the acquisition of MedImmune, which has no marketed drugs - something which AZ desperately needs at the moment.

The FT added that Symonds, who was at AZ for a decade under Sir Tom McKillop, the former CEO, also failed to see the value, and that may have been the last straw.

The newspaper added that jobs at Goldman Sachs were not handed out suddenly and the lack of an immediate successor suggests that Symond's departure caught AZ by surprise.

7th June 2007

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