LONDON, July 14 (Reuters) - Shares in AstraZeneca fell for a second day on Friday as uncertainty over the future of Chief Executive Pascal Soriot weighed on the Anglo-Swedish company ahead of a crucial period.
Shares in Astra closed down 3.5 percent on Thursday and were trading down a further 2.5 percent on Friday, at a two-month low, following an Israeli report late on Wednesday that Soriot was in talks to join Teva Pharmaceutical Industries.
Moving to a generics drugmaker, albeit the world’s largest, would be a big change in direction for French-born Soriot, 58, who had made research-based pharma his whole aim at AstraZeneca.
The timing of the rumour has alarmed investors, coming as the company waits for an all-important data from a MYSTIC trial of a lung cancer drug which is seen as a game-changer for Astra.
Analysts at Leerink, an investment bank that specialises in healthcare, said the move would come as a major surprise, if true, and leave AstraZeneca rudderless at a key time.
“If true, the optics around his departure would be terrible ahead of the MYSTIC readout ... which are expected any day now.”
No one at AstraZeneca was immediately available to comment.
Reporting by Kate Holton, editing by David Evans