AZ CEO set to take charge at Teva

Chief Executive of Astra Zeneca Pascal Soriot leaves after appearing at a commons science committee hearing at Portcullis House in London May

Chief Executive of Astra Zeneca Pascal Soriot leaves after appearing at a commons science committee hearing at Portcullis House in London May

Shares in the United Kingdom -based drug giant fell sharply Thursday after a news outlet in Israel reported late Wednesday he was moving to lead Teva Pharmaceuticals Ltd., an Israeli generics drugmaker that has been looking for a new chief for months.

According to the Calcalist, Pascal Soriot met with the Israeli company's search committee and agreed to join as its new chief executive.

Astra, whose shares fell 242p to 4950p, needs new blockbuster drugs to replace the cashflows from its cholesterol treatment, being replaced by generic versions.

Astra shares were off 4.5% on Thursday morning to £49.60. Teva's longtime Chief Financial Officer Eyal Desheh exited last month.

When pressed for a response, AstraZeneca and Teva both said they didn't comment on market rumours. Soriot, who took the helm at the FTSE 100 drugmaker in 2012, has helped rebuild the group's pipeline via research and acquisitions, and in 2014 successfully rebuffed a takeover approach from Pfizer. Should he accept the offer, Soriot is thought to have been offered a $20m (£15.5m) signing bonus.

"Such a move only makes sense if Mystic is expected to disappoint", said Trinity Delta analyst Mick Cooper.

They said: "We do not see the reports, even if true, as any indication of the specific results of the MYSTIC trial", they said. His salary will reportedly be nearly double the $5.7 million that former CEO Erez Vigodman was paid in 2015, and he will receiving a signing bonus estimated at between $15 million and $20 million. Calcalist added that financial terms are still being discussed.

Teva's chairman, Sol Barer, said in May his top priority was the continuing global search to identify a candidate with "deep and broad pharmaceutical experience" to serve as Teva's permanent CEO.

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