AstraZeneca to cut 1,600 jobs in global reshuffle

AstraZeneca CEO Pascal Soriot

AstraZeneca CEO Pascal Soriot is shuffling his deck. The company plans to spend $500 million to expand in three research hot spots and cluster operations there. But it's not just R&D on the move to that trinity of chosen locations. Commercial and headquarters operations will move, too. In the process, AstraZeneca ($AZN) will cut some 1,600 jobs and shut down facilities in the U.S. and U.K.

The three lucky cities? Cambridge, U.K., which will become AstraZeneca's new global headquarters; Gaithersburg, MD; and Mölndal, Sweden. AstraZeneca's current HQ operations will move to Cambridge from west London, joining the company's U.K.-based small-molecule and biologics research operations. The company will spend that $500 million on new facilities there, and "the majority" of the 350 jobs now in London will either move to Cambridge or to other company locations.

Meanwhile, in the U.S., Gaithersburg will become a hub for R&D--and for AstraZeneca's U.S.-based marketing force and its specialty-care commercial operations. The company's current commercial-and-R&D base in Wilmington, DE, will remain AstraZeneca's U.S. headquarters, but about 1,200 jobs will leave that site--and only 300 positions will be added in Gaithersburg. That means about 650 job cuts, with another 170 employees expected to relocate elsewhere wihtin AstraZeneca.

The company will keep its R&D facilities in Boston, where it will focus primarily on small molecules. Naturally, AstraZeneca's biologics work will be concentrated in Gaithersburg, which is its MedImmune unit's headquarters. Not incidentally, Soriot recently tapped MedImmune's Bahija Jallal to head up the company's early biologics R&D.

As its operations shuffle over the next few years, AstraZeneca will shed about 1,600 jobs, the company said in a statement. Another 2,500 jobs will move. By 2016, the company will save an estimated $190 million annually.

"I recognise that our plans will have a significant impact on many of our people and our stakeholders at the affected sites," Soriot said in a statement. "We are fully committed to treating all our employees with respect and fairness as we navigate this important period of change."

- get the company's press release
- see AstraZeneca's statement on U.S. changes