By Pushkala Aripaka
(Reuters) – AstraZeneca will move finance chief Marc Dunoyer to head newly acquired rare diseases business Alexion, using the $39 billion takeover as an opportunity to freshen up a management team that had been in place for eight years.
Chief Executive Pascal Soriot has faced heavy public criticism and EU legal action after AstraZeneca missed targets for coronavirus vaccine deliveries, with he and Dunoyer also attracting investor anger over their pay packages last month.
Dunoyer will replace Ludwig Hantson as boss of United States-based Alexion on completion of the agreed deal, with the proposed switch allowing Aradhana Sarin to move in the opposite direction and become AstraZeneca chief financial officer.
The Anglo-Swedish drugmaker agreed in December to buy Alexion in a bet on rare-disease immunology to add to its fast-growing cancer medicines unit and a major COVID-19 vaccine.
London-listed AstraZeneca said Sarin’s appointment is also conditional upon completion of the Alexion deal, which was approved by shareholders last month. Britain and the European Union are reviewing the deal, which gained U.S. approval in April.
As well as becoming Alexion chief executive, Dunoyer will also be appointed chief strategy officer at AstraZeneca. He will leave the board but continue to report to Soriot.
Soriot and Chairman Leif Johansson have been in their roles since 2012 and Dunoyer was appointed in late 2013 https://bit.ly/3vQ1KzF. In an interview with the Financial Times last month https://on.ft.com/3zapoJp, Soriot indicated that succession planning had begun for the three men at the top.
India-born Sarin would become the first woman to take up the CFO role at AstraZeneca on a permanent basis. She joins a handful of women in the so-called C-Suite of top executives at UK blue-chip companies.
Sarin’s addition to the board increases the composition of female board members to 42% from 33%, Barclays analysts said in a note.
“In Aradhana Sarin, we’ve appointed a talented successor to Marc,” AstraZeneca’s Johansson said in a statement.
It was unclear what role Alexion’s Hantson will take after Dunoyer’s arrival. Hantson did not immediately respond to a request for comment via networking platform LinkedIn.
AstraZeneca declined to comment and a representative for Alexion could not be reached for comment outside business hours.
Hantson joined Alexion in 2017, as did Sarin and former AstraZeneca CEO David Brennan, to regain investor confidence after its top executives left amid an internal investigation over sales of Alexion’s top-selling drug, Soliris.
Soliris is used against a range of rare immune-disorders, and AstraZeneca hopes that an improved version of the drug will boost sales further.
($1 = 0.7098 pounds)
(Reporting by Pushkala Aripaka and Vishwadha Chander in Bengaluru; Editing by Rashmi Aich, Patrick Graham and David Goodman)