The Vectura directors who backed Philip Morris takeover

The cigarette maker made a billion-pound offer for the lung medicines manufacturer.

August Graham
Friday 13 August 2021 14:43 BST
Philip Morris makes Marlboro cigarettes (Martin Rickett/PA)
Philip Morris makes Marlboro cigarettes (Martin Rickett/PA)

Inhaler maker Vectura has come under pressure after the company accepted a billion-pound takeover offer from Philip Morris the company behind cigarette brand Marlboro.

The deal received unanimous support from Vectura’s eight board members on Thursday.

Most of them have spent large parts of their careers with the world’s biggest drugs companies, spending years trying to combat diseases, some of which are linked to smoking.

It has brought into sharp focus the clash between securing the best value for shareholders versus maintaining good corporate governance for the firm.

None of the directors have commented publicly on the approach from Philip Morris or addressed the criticism from health campaigners.

Here, the PA news agency takes a look at the Vectura directors behind the £1 billion takeover.

Bruno Angelici – chairman

A French citizen, Mr Angelici was honoured in France’s 2009 Legion d’honneur list after around two decades with drugmaker AstraZeneca – best known for its Covid-19 vaccine and describes itself as being at the “forefront of lung cancer treatment”.

Mr Angelici joined the board of Vectura in 2013 before becoming chairman months later. Despite spending most of his career with medical companies, he is not a doctor. The Frenchman was educated in business and law in France and the US.

He has also been a director at Smiths Group, a FTSE 100 company, and diabetes giant Novo Nordisk and served as an adviser to Japan’s Takeda Pharmaceutical.

Under his leadership Vectura launched a £441 million takeover of SkyePharma, creating a British lung disease company with a scale that – it was hoped – would attract major investors.

Analysts at the time said the merger of the two companies would create a “one-stop shop” for respiratory drugs.

Will Downie – chief executive

Mr Downie started his career as a medical sales rep in Essex, abandoning Edinburgh where he had gained a degree in biochemistry.

A fan of Joy Division, Mr Downie came to Vectura in 2019 via GE Healthcare and US pharmaceutical giant Catalent.

Paul Fry – chief financial officer

Mr Fry joined Vectura as finance chief in 2018, and also spent a short time in the chief executive’s job before Mr Downie was appointed.

A qualified accountant, Mr Fry joined Vectura from Immunocore, another biotechnology company. He had also spent time at Vodafone and GlaxoSmithKline earlier in his career.

Per-Olof Andersson – non-executive director

Dr Andersson has carved out a decades-long career in the pharmaceutical sector since he graduated with a degree in medicine from Lund University in Sweden.

The Swede led the research and development unit for Almirall, a Spanish drugs giant between 2006 and 2011. There he worked on a drug to treat chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, a condition for which smoking is the primary risk factor, according to Vectura. COPD is not curable.

When Dr Andersson’s work on a drug to help treat COPD showed disappointing results in 2008, market watchers speculated that Vectura could benefit from the news.

He joined the Vectura board in 2015.

Jeanne Thoma – non-executive director

A former chief executive, Ms Thoma has spent most of her career working in management for pharmaceutical businesses.

She worked for 14 years at the drugs division of chemicals giant BASF in the US, before leaving to become the head of HR for Swiss company Lonza.

Ms Thoma became chief executive of SPI Pharma in 2017, a job which she left last year. SPI is owned by Associated British Foods the company behind Primark, and specialises in helping pharmaceutical companies by, for instance, creating new kinds of tablets.

Jeanne Taylor Hecht – non-executive director 

Ms Hecht was appointed as a Vectura director on the same day in 2020 as the other Jeanne on the board.

Also a former chief executive, she led US eyecare company Ora for two years.

Juliet Thompson – non-executive director

Ms Thompson is an economics graduate who has spent 20 years in the life sciences sector as an investment banker and adviser to healthcare companies.

Alongside her Vectura position, she sits on the board of France’s Novacyt, a diagnostics company which is also listed in London.

She is also a director at Orgnox, a medical company which traces its roots back to Oxford University.

Kevin Matthews – non-executive director

Alongside Dr Andersson, Dr Matthews is the only other doctor on the board of Vectura. However his doctorate is in chemistry from Oxford University.

Next to his duties at Vectura, Mr Matthews has been the chief executive of Scott Bader, a chemicals giant, since last year.

He was once a director at Cellectricon, a Swedish biotechnology company which specialises in chronic pain, among other things.

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