Acambis seeks to lure back former chief executive as chairman

Acambis, the drug group which supplies smallpox vaccine to the US government, is set to ask John Brown, the chief executive who resigned earlier this month, to stay on to become chairman.

Acambis shares have fallen more than 20 per cent since the well-respected Scot said he wanted to spend more time with his family in Edinburgh.

Investors are understood to have told the company to find a way of keeping Dr Brown on the board, and the favoured option is a move up to chairman. The company is confident the appointment would find favour, despite being in contravention of the Higgs rules on corporate governance, which discourage chief executives from moving up to chairman.

Dr Brown would replace Alan Smith, who has been a non-executive at Acambis since 1995 and chairman for the last four years.

Dr Brown joined Acambis, then called Peptide Therapeutics, as finance director nine years ago and was made chief executive in 1997. Since then he has overseen its transformation from a loss-making biotech into a profitable vaccines developer, largely thanks to a £300m contract to build a bioterrorist vaccine stockpile for the US government.

Although he is staying on as chief executive until a successor is found, he said at the time of the company's interim results this month that he wanted "to spend more nights at home than I do away". Acambis is based in Cambridge and the smallpox contract involves regular trips to the US.

Acambis shares dived 8 per cent on news of his departure, and they have continued to drift since. Observers said the change in management added to the uncertainty, which already exists over how the company's profits can be sustained when it has completed its US smallpox contract.

The company has appointed head-hunters to search for a replacement. The finance director, Gordon Cameron, is expected to be the strongest internal candidate but the job is likely to attract considerable interest from senior directors of some US biotechs.

Dr Brown is also chairman of the Roslin Institute, near Edinburgh, which cloned Dolly the Sheep, and says he will look for a new commercial role with growing companies. "There is some terrific science in Scotland and I want to be involved in creating more value from it," he said at the time of his resignation.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Selby Jennings: Oil Operations

Highly Competitive: Selby Jennings: Our client, a leading European Oil trading...

The Jenrick Group: Night Shift Operations Manager

£43500 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: Night Shift Operatio...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - LONDON

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £40,000 + Car + Pension: SThree: SThree are a ...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £35K: SThree: We consistently strive to be the...

Day In a Page

Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there