AstraZeneca investors lobby for management shake-up

The knives are out at AstraZeneca ($AZN). Investors are agitating for big changes at the troubled drugmaker,  even asking for a new CEO, the Financial Times reports. Despairing over the company's recent "downward spiral," some shareholders are lobbying for CFO Simon Lowth to take David Brennan's job, while others back the company's commercial VP, Tony Zook.

But Bernstein Research analyst Jack Scannell thinks a more radical switch is necessary. "You don't need a lawyer or a marketing person," Scannell told FT. "You either need Attila the Hun--a total butcher--to run it down until it can be bought, or a Paul Janssen-like figure: a successful scientist who can really take on the research team."

Analysts have offered up other ideas for reversing AstraZeneca's recent slide: Buy a company, such as Amylin Pharmaceuticals ($AMLN), for instance. But the company's big shareholders figure that new deals need new management.

With a new chairman in the offing--ex-Volvo chief Leif Johansson is running for election--a shake-up could well follow. "The board will probably step in and take a new strategic direction because the company is in a downward spiral," one shareholder said.

- read the story in the FT

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