AstraZeneca poached its new chief executive from Swiss rival Roche yesterday in an attempt to kick-start the UK drugs giant, which will see many of its top-selling drugs come off patent in the next two years.
The company has also suffered a series of multi-million pound clinical trial failures.
Pascal Soriot, 53, who practised as a vet before moving into the pharmaceutical industry, will join AstraZeneca at the start of October. He headed the cancer drug group Genentech before its $100m (£63m) takeover by Roche in 2009, where he became head of pharmaceuticals. The Frenchman replaces David Brennan, who was one of the most high-profile casualties of the shareholder spring. Mr Brennan resigned in April hours before the company's annual meeting after coming under increasing pressure from institutional investors.