AstraZeneca hires Roche's Pascal Soriot to be new CEO

AstraZeneca said Tuesday morning that its new chief executive officer will be Pascal Soriot, who has been chief operating officer of Roche AG since 2010.

David Brennan announced in April that he would depart as CEO on June 1 as the company wrestled with how to reorient itself as it fought the loss of revenue from several top drugs.

Pascal Soriot

Simon Lowth, who had been chief financial officer until serving as interim CEO, will return to handling finances when Soriot begins on Oct. 1, the company said in a statement.

AstraZeneca is based in the United Kingdom, but has its Americas headquarters in Wilmington and another facility in Newark, Del.

Before working at Roche, Soriot was chief executive officer of Genentech, the prominent San Francisco-based biologics company that was bought by Roche.

"Throughout my career I have had enormous respect for the people of AstraZeneca and what they have achieved," Soriot said in a statement. "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.”

AstraZeneca just completed a $3.4 billion deal to develop and market the diabetes products made by Amylin, which was acquired by Bristol-Myers Squibb for about $7 billion.

Leif Johansson, chairman of the board of directors for AstraZeneca PLC, said in a statement, “This is a key appointment at an important time for AstraZeneca and we are certain that Pascal’s leadership qualities combined with his strategic thinking and relevant experience make him the right person to drive the company to success over the coming years. 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.

“The Board would like to record its appreciation for the excellent job done by Simon Lowth as interim CEO and his impressive leadership in this period. Supported by a highly capable and committed executive team, Simon has maintained the organization’s focus on key business priorities during a period of significant change for the company.”