David Brennan, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and Board member of pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca has announced that he will be retiring in June.
The news has come as quite a shock to the industry as Brennan is one of longest serving CEOs in the pharmaceutical sector, taking up his current role in January 2006.
AstraZeneca has also announced that its Chairman, Louis Schweitzer, will be retiring early too – at the same time as Brennan on 1 June 2012.
It has been suggested that both men were encouraged to leave by non-executive Board members after the company’s performance stalled.
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During the first quarter, AstraZeneca’s profits fell by 19 percent, reflecting its struggle to overcome the loss of patents of some of its key drugs, including Sereoquel.
Brennan has also been criticised for not trying to diversify Astra’s product range sooner and introduce new sources of revenue to the company.
However, the announcement of the retirements comes just days after it was revealed the company had spent $1.6 billion to buy Adrea Biosciences and its promising new gout treatment, lesinurad.
At the time Brennan said the acquisition was “an excellent opportunity to leverage AstraZeneca's global specialty and primary care sales and marketing capabilities.”
Two interim replacements for Brennan and Schweitzer have already been appointed until permanent successors are found, and the company is looking at both internal and external candidates.
Simon Lowth, the Executive Director and Chief Financial Officer (CFO) will step up to the position of CEO, whileLeif Johansson will temporarily replace Louis Schweitzer.
Julie Brown, the Vice President Group Finance, will become CFO while Lowth is undertaking the additional responsibilities.
Commenting on his retirement, David Brennan said: “After more than six years as Chief Executive Officer of this great company I have decided that now is the right time to step down and allow a new leader to take the reins.
“The Board’s decision to appoint Simon Lowth as interim Chief Executive Officer has my full support and I am confident that AstraZeneca will continue to have a positive impact on the lives of patients around the world and by doing so will deliver real value to our shareholders.”
Meanwhile, Louis Schweitzer added: “David has led AstraZeneca’s business with skill, integrity and courage during a period of enormous change for the pharmaceutical industry and for the company.
“We fully understand and respect David’s decision to retire and thank him for his selfless leadership of the company.”
“I know we can count on Simon’s leadership, supported by a strong and experienced Senior Executive Team, to maintain focus and momentum as the Board seeks a smooth transition to a new chief executive over the coming months.”
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