Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Pascal Soriot rings the changes in AZ

AstraZeneca in new management shake-up

Both Martin Mackay, president of research and development, and Tony Zook, global commercial executive vice president, have had their roles "eliminated" and are to leave the company at the end of January.

Under a significant management restructure, Mr Soriot has also promoted three members of research and development staff, responsible for drug discovery and development from early to late stages, to his senior executive team, in a sign that the company sees organic drug making as crucial to its future success.

There will also be another three roles at senior executive level representing commerical regions North America, Europe and international, and a further role responsible for global portfolio and strategy.

With the exception of the latter role, all new jobs created have been filled internally.

The changes come ahead of AstraZeneca's full-year results, on January 31, where Mr Soriot is expected to outline his strategy and vision for the ailing drugs maker that is facing one of the steepest patent "cliffs" in the global pharmaceuticals industry.

The decision to remove two key posts from the leadership team is understood to reflect Mr Soriot's desire to cut out unnecessary layers of management and improve accountability at the company, instead giving a voice to research and development managers at the coalface.

Mr Soriot, a former Roche executive, is striving to return AstraZeneca to health in the face of one of the industry's steepest patent "cliffs" - when patents expire and drugs face generic competition.

He is expected to set out his ideas for the group when he presents full-year results on January 31. A more in-depth presentation on strategy for analysts and investors is slated for March.

Mr Soriot's first decision on taking office was to suspend share buybacks, prompting immediate speculation that he will embark on more acquisitions to replace lost revenue. But he is also likely to re-focus both R&D and marketing operations in a bid to make the most of existing assets.

The company is not alone in facing big patent losses, but while rivals like GlaxoSmithKline and Sanofi have now put the worst behind them, AstraZeneca still has the worst to come. Its two biggest selling drugs - Nexium for stomach acid and the cholesterol fighter Crestor - will lose US protection in 2014 and 2016.

Mr Soriot's new line-up for the key R&D functions will see Mene Pangalos take over as head of innovative medicines, with Bahija Jallal responsible for biologic drug development at the MedImmune unit, and Briggs Morrison heading up global medicines development.

"This new senior executive team structure, that draws heavily from the leadership talent within the company, enables us to bring an even sharper management focus to key pipeline assets, key brands and key markets, and helps us further accelerate decision-making," Mr Soriot said.

The new AstraZeneca senior executive team

Pascal Soriot, chief executive and executive director

Simon Lowth, chief financial officer and executive director

Mene Pangalos, executive vice president, innovative medicines

Bahija Jallal, executive vice president, medImmune

Briggs Morrison, executive vice president, global medicines development

Paul Hudson, executive vice president, North America

Ruud Dobber, executive vice president, Europe

Mark Mallon, executive vice president, international

David Smith, executive vice president, operations & IS

Lynn Tetrault, executive vice president, Human Resources & Corporate Affairs

Katarina Ageborg, chief compliance officer

Jeff Pott, general counsel

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