Britain’s second largest pharmaceutical company, AstraZeneca (NYSE:AZN), has taken its new CEO from French competitor Roche (PINK:RHHBY).
Pascal Soriot, formerly the chief operating officer at Roche’s pharmaceuticals unit, will assume his role as head of AstraZeneca on October 1.
At Roche, Soriot oversaw a business unit with about $34 billion in annual revenue, roughly the same as all of AstraZeneca. He also supervised the acquisition and integration of U.S. biotech firm Genentech into Roche, Reuters noted.
Soriot replaces David Brennan, who stepped down as CEO on June 1 amid falling earnings and revenue at the Anglo-Swedish drug maker. Brennan had been criticized for failing to boost the company’s pipeline of new drugs in a highly competitive marketplace.
The company’s interim CEO, Simon Lowth, will continue on as CFO.
Analysts cited by Reuters noted that Soriot has biotech experience that could prove helpful to AstraZeneca as its seeks to expand into that sector and build a pipeline of new drugs.
However, with patent protection expiring on a number of AstraZeneca’s popular drugs, including Seroquel, Crestor and Nexium over the next several years, Soriot will have to move quickly to reverse a string of recent new drug failures.
Shares of AstraZeneca were flat in Tuesday mid-day trading in New York.