AstraZeneca CEO David Brennan to retire in June
David Brennan, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and Board member of pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca has announced that he will be retiring in June.
The news has come as quite a shock to the industry as Brennan is one of longest serving CEOs in the pharmaceutical sector, taking up his current role in January 2006.
AstraZeneca has also announced that its Chairman, Louis Schweitzer, will be retiring early too – at the same time as Brennan on 1 June 2012.
It has been suggested that both men were encouraged to leave by non-executive Board members after the company’s performance stalled.
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During the first quarter, AstraZeneca’s profits fell by 19 percent, reflecting its struggle to overcome the loss of patents of some of its key drugs, including Sereoquel.
Brennan has also been criticised for not trying to diversify Astra’s product range sooner and introduce new sources of revenue to the company.
However, the announcement of the retirements comes just days after it was revealed the company had spent $1.6 billion to buy Adrea Biosciences and its promising new gout treatment, lesinurad.
At the time Brennan said the acquisition was “an excellent opportunity to leverage AstraZeneca's global specialty and primary care sales and marketing capabilities.”
Two interim replacements for Brennan and Schweitzer have already been appointed until permanent successors are found, and the company is looking at both internal and external candidates.
Simon Lowth, the Executive Director and Chief Financial Officer (CFO) will step up to the position of CEO, whileLeif Johansson will temporarily replace Louis Schweitzer.
Julie Brown, the Vice President Group Finance, will become CFO while Lowth is undertaking the additional responsibilities.
Commenting on his retirement, 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.”
Meanwhile, Louis Schweitzer added: “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.”
“I know we can count on Simon’s leadership, supported by a strong and experienced Senior Executive Team, to maintain focus and momentum as the Board seeks a smooth transition to a new chief executive over the coming months.”
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Bachem turns 50 - a timeline
Bachem, a supplier to pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies worldwide, is celebrating its 50th anniversary this month. We take a look at the Swiss company's history.
1971 - beginnings
Bachem is founded by entrepreneur Peter Grogg in Liestal, a small town near Basel in Switzerland. Grogg started the firm with just two employees, and with a focus on peptide synthesis - peptides are composed of amino acids that have a variety of functions treating health conditions such as cancer and diabetes.
1977 - 1981 - early growth
Bachem moves its headquarters to the Swiss town of Bubendorf, with eight employees. In 1978 the company produces peptides for use in medicines for the first time. In 1981 production capacity triples and the workforce grows to 150.
1987 - 1996 - worldwide expansion
The company expands into the US with Bachem Bioscience, Inc. in Philadelphia. To strengthen its presence in Europe, Bachem opens sales and marketing centres in Germany in 1988.
Further sales centres open in France in 1993. By 1995 the company employs 190 people. In 1996 it acquires the second largest manufacturer of peptides in the world and forms Bachem California with a site in Torrance.
1998 - 2003 - Bachem goes public
Bachem company goes public and lists shares on the Swiss Stock Exchange. Further acquisitions include Peninsula Laboratories, Inc, based in California, and Sochinaz SA, a Swiss-based manufacturer of active pharmaceutical ingredients. By 2001, the company has 500 employees and sales reach 141 million CHF.
In 2003 the organisation is given a new legal holding structure to support its continued growth, which remains in place to this day.
2007 - 2013 - acquisitions
Bachem acquires a brand by Merck Biosciences for ready-to-use clinical trial materials and related services.
In 2013, together with GlyTech, Inc. Bachem announces the development of a new amino acid that can help to treat multiple sclerosis, with a world market of more than $4 billion.
In 2015 it acquires the American Peptide Company (APC), which becomes integrated into Bachem Americas.
2016 - 2019 - a global leader
In 2016 the group opens a new building dedicated to R&D projects and small series production in Bubendorf. With a total of 1,022 employees, the workforce exceeds the 1,000 mark for the first time in the company’s history. Sales are over the 200 million mark for the first time at 236.5 million CHF.
Bachem expands into Asia with the establishment of a new company in Tokyo called Bachem Japan K.K.
By 2019 Bachem has a growing oligonucleotide portfolio - these are DNA molecules used in genetic testing, research, and forensics. It is hoped this will become a significant product range in the future.
2020 - COVID-19
Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, Bachem secures its supply of active ingredients, and even increases it in critical areas. Sales exceed the 400 million Swiss franc mark for the first time, and 272 new employees are hired.
2021 - a milestone anniversary
Bachem celebrates its 50th anniversary and position as a global leader in the manufacture of peptides. While it remains headquartered in Bubendorf, the company employs 1,500 people at six locations worldwide. In the next five years there are plans to continue expanding.
Commemorating the company's anniversary, Kuno Sommer, Chairman of the Board of Directors, said: "Bachem's exceptional success story from a small laboratory to a global market leader is closely linked to Peter Grogg's values, and has been shaped by innovation, consistent quality and cost awareness, as well as by entrepreneurial vision."