Mystery at AstraZeneca: Is CEO Soriot Staying or Going?


Shares in AstraZeneca dropped nearly 5% today on reports from Israel that boss Pascal Soriot was about to join the country's pharma company Teva, as its next chief executive.

According to Calcalist, the Israeli financial news website responsible for breaking the story, Soriot met with Teva's search committee and chairman to express his agreement. Its chief Erez Vigodman stepped down in February.

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Is AstraZeneca PLC Chief Executive Pascal Soriot staying or going? Soriot, 58, has been running AstraZeneca since 2012, although the company has been struggling.

"While neither Teva nor AstraZeneca has confirmed, we can not dismiss the Calcalist article given the track record of the Israeli press and the detailed disclosure of the compensation package", said Baum in a note to clients this morning. Early results for a closely followed lung-cancer treatment are also expected within weeks.

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If the combination of durvalumab and tremelimumab works in the indication, AZ could market the therapy in an indication expected to be worth an estimated $20 billion in sales, where Merck & Co already has a foothold with its Keytruda (pembrolizumab). Reuters, however, also quoted UBS analysts as saying that they did not see a read across.

"That said, we have significant trouble reconciling the timing of the potential departure pre-MYSTIC and Dr Soriot's skill set match with Teva".

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An AstraZeneca spokesperson declined to comment, describing the story as "rumour and speculation". "If Astra knew the results, they would have announced them".