|AstraZeneca CEO Pascal Soriot|
Based: London, England
Announced layoffs: 5,050
AstraZeneca ($AZN) raided Roche ($RHHBY) in 2012, hiring Pascal Soriot as its CEO. He was brought in to concoct a strategy that would deal with its multitude of problems and return it to growth. Soriot thought it over for about 6 months and then laid out the plan. He shuffled and refocused R&D, emphasized emerging markets, promised M&A to fill in some gaps, talked up the company's diabetes products and pledged to sell the heck out of its underperforming blood thinner, Brilinta.
But underlying everything was the need to cut costs, and nowhere is it easier to do that than to cut employees, more than 5,000 in AstraZeneca's case. The hits were spread across the operation: 1,600 in R&D, 2,300 in sales and administrative functions and the rest from various areas.
The problems that marched the U.K.-based company to this kind of trimming were well known and pretty typical: thin pipeline, R&D disappointments, pricing pressures, big patent losses. Revenues were already being flattened by the 2012 patent loss of its blockbuster antipsychotic Seroquel when Soriot arrived. Nexium, its popular stomach drug and $4-billion-a-year powerhouse, loses protection this year, and cholesterol drug Crestor, its top seller with more than $6 billion in sales, falls in 2016. At the other end of the biz, its 2007, $15.6 billion deal to buy biotech MedImmune hasn't paid off in products to make up the losses.
Soriot has been making acquisitions as promised, including up to $4.1 billion to buy out Bristol-Myers Squibb's ($BMY) share of their diabetes drug development business and about 4,100 employees, and so is adding some people along the way. -- Eric Palmer (email | Twitter)
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