Brennan retiring as AstraZeneca CEO

AstraZeneca announced that CEO  and board member, David Brennan has decided to retire.

Executive Director and Chief Financial Officer Simon Lowth to act as interim Chief Executive Officer from June 2012 until a permanent successor is in place. Julie Brown, Vice President Group Finance, will become interim Chief Financial Officer on the same date. David Brennan will retire from AstraZeneca and step down from the board on June 1. AstraZeneca is based in London and has a sizable operation in northern Delaware. 

AstraZeneca also announced that Leif Johansson will succeed Louis Schweitzer as Non Executive Chairman on 1 June 2012 – three months earlier than previously announced – and will become Chairman of the Nomination and Governance Committee after today’s Annual General Meeting. This will enable Johansson to lead the selection process for Brennan’s successor including both internal and external candidates. Johansson’s appointment to the AstraZeneca Board is subject to approval by shareholders.

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.”

Louis Schweitzer, Chairman of AstraZeneca said: “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.”

 Brennan was appointed to his current role in January 2006 and is one of the longest serving chief executives in the pharmaceutical sector.

Prior to becoming CEO, he had been based in north Wilmington as head of U.S. Operations. AstraZeneca has struggled with a pipeline that is not replacing revenues when drugs go off patent. It has undergone a wave  of cost cutting at its Delaware operations and elsewhere.

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