AstraZeneca searching for Pascal Soriot successor – report

AstraZeneca is looking for a successor to CEO Pascal Soriot just in case he decides to move on, according to a press report.

Without revealing its source The Sunday Times reported that the pharma company has hired headhunters to find a successor after Soriot was strongly linked with the vacant Teva CEO job last year.

That job went to Kåre Schultz from Lundbeck – but since then Soriot, who was appointed six years ago, is constantly asked whether he is going to stay around and continue to lead the company’s revival.

According to the newspaper the Cambridge-based company has engaged the headhunters to assess internal candidates.

Potential candidates could include senior executive Mene Pangalos, who heads drug discovery and early research at AZ, and Ruud Dobber, who leads commercial operations in North America.

The company seems to have turned a corner, announcing in a quarterly earning call this month that sales are starting to increase again after nearly a decade of decline as key drugs went off patent.

But it remains to be seen whether the company will achieve the revenue target of $41 billion set by Soriot when he fought off a takeover bid by Pfizer in 2014.

At the end of last week, AZ’s key immunotherapy Imfinzi (durvalumab) failed in a first-line lung cancer trial, which would have earned the company billions of dollars had it been successful.

On the positive side, AZ’s Tagrisso (osimertinib) has exceeded expectations in lung cancer patients with EGFR mutations, with the company predicting peak annual sales of around $4 billion and some analysts predicting sales of around $6 billion.

In the meantime, Soriot keeps insisting that he is going nowhere and wants to stay on and finish the job.

Soriot told a news conference to discuss the company’s third quarter earnings earlier this month:  “I am enjoying what I am doing. There are a lot of exciting things happening, I have no plans to move on.”





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