Shares in AstraZeneca fell more than 5%, stripping at one stage €3.5bn from its market value, after the drug company declined to deny a media report that chief executive Pascal Soriot was about to defect to Israel-based Teva Pharmaceutical.
Mr Soriot, who has led the Anglo-Swedish company since 2012, met with Teva’s search committee and its chairman to express his agreement to serve as its next CEO, the Calcalist financial news website reported.
Both companies said they did not comment on market rumours. Teva was left without a permanent CEO in February after Erez Vigodman stepped down.
Moving to a generics drugmaker, albeit the world’s largest, would be a big change in direction for French-born Mr Soriot, 58. During his five years at the company he successfully defended Astra against a €103bn takeover approach from Pfizer.
Mr Soriot is now waiting for all-important data from a Mystic trial of a lung cancer candidate, which Goldman Sachs has said will be one of the year’s most important clinical readouts.
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