AstraZeneca shuffles leadership ahead of megadeal close, tapping an Alexion CEO and bringing up a new CFO

AstraZeneca
AstraZeneca's Alexion buyout is expected to close in 2021's third quarter.

With AstraZeneca's Alexion buyout due to close later this year, the British Big Pharma is summoning the rare disease specialist's chief financial officer to its C-suite and tapping a new CEO for its prized buy.

Aradhana Sarin, M.D., currently the executive vice president and CFO of Alexion, will come on board at AZ as an executive director and CFO starting either August 1 or the date of the acquisition's close, whichever is sooner. As part of the move, Sarin will relocate to the U.K. from the U.S., AstraZeneca said in a release. 

Sarin will pick up the CFO torch from AZ's Marc Dunoyer, who plans to assume the dual role of Alexion's CEO and AstraZeneca's chief strategy officer. He'll continue to report to Soriot as a member of AZ's senior executive team. 

Looking to expand its presence in immunology—and swiftly boost its top-line—AstraZeneca in December laid out $39 billion to buy Alexion in a cash-and-stock deal. The tie-up could go a long way toward AZ CEO Pascal Soriot's mission to hit $40 billion in global sales by 2023. 

RELATED: Alexion asked AstraZeneca to up its buyout offer multiple times—almost costing it a deal in the process

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission cleared the AstraZeneca/Alexion deal in April without attaching any extra conditions, despite analysts' concerns that it would face pushback from the newly Democratic FTC. Earlier this year, the agency said it would take a hard line on oversight, specifically taking aim at biopharma deals. 

But it hasn't all been smooth sailing for the companies. About a month after the FTC's OK, the U.K.’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) launched an anti-competition investigation into the buyout-to-be. The agency plans to reach a decision by July 21, but if it uncovers a “realistic prospect” of threats to competition, the CMA could launch a longer assessment.

RELATED: In wake of biopharma mega buyouts, FTC kicks off review of industry's deal-making

Dunoyer joined AstraZeneca from fellow British Big Pharma GlaxoSmithKline in 2013, starting his run as EVP of global product and portfolio strategy. He officially donned the CFO and executive director mantle in November of that same year. For her part, Sarin entered the Alexion fold back in November 2017, starting out as chief business and strategy officer before she climbed the ranks to CFO. 

As CEO of Alexion, Dunoyer will head up AstraZeneca's rare disease unit and steer Alexion's strategic direction. This will include efforts to apply Alexion's complement biology expertise to AstraZeneca's immunology programs and other disease areas, as well as explore new rare disease candidates using AZ tech such as CRISPR.