Simon Lowth will leave AstraZeneca plc (NYSE:AZN) (LON:AZN) where he has been chief financial officer since 2007 for the same position at BG Group plc (OTCMKTS:BRGYY) (LON:BG), Reuters reports.
AstraZeneca plc (NYSE:AZN) (LON:AZN) has struggled with falling profits as many of its drug patents have expired, opening up competition from generic drug manufacturers, and CEO Pascal Soriot has said that the company is looking to recover profits in the long-term.
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Lowth served as interim CEO from June to October of last year when Soriot was recruited from rival Roche Group. Previous CEO David Brennan was forced from the position by investors who blamed him for failures in drug development and accused him of poor job performance. There has been speculation that Lowth might move on since he was passed over for the permanent position.
Lowth Switches Back to Energy Sector
Before Lowth went to AstraZeneca plc (NYSE:AZN) (LON:AZN) he worked as financial director for Scottish Power which, like BG Group plc (OTCMKTS:BRGYY) (LON:BG), is a formerly state-owned power company. He was brought in after Scottish Power failed to acquire U.S.-based PacificCorp. Before he started working at Scottish Power, Lowth had worked as a consultant with McKinsey for 16 years, where one of his colleauges described him as an intense “technical strategy type.”
There has been concern about BG’s ability to recover after it announced that it would miss production targets last year and then abandoned a number of its long-term projects in February. The company could also be impacted by tension in Egypt, where a fifth of BG’s production takes place. Any disruptions could threaten BG Group’s cash flow and its ability to fund new projects, giving the company an ongoing source of uncertainty that makes planning especially difficult.
BG Group’s New CEO Welcomes Lowth
BG Group plc (OTCMKTS:BRGYY) (LON:BG) has also recently hired new CEO Chris Finlayson, who said that “[Lowth] brings with him […] critical skills as we execute our strategy to deliver long-term value to shareholders and focus on excellence in execution.” Lowth is expected to focus on gas exploration and liquefaction, as well forming partnerships to develop its gas discoveries.
Lowth will receive a base pay of £725,000 ($1.1 million), and BG Group will compensate him for the 2013 cash bonus that he will forfeit by leaving AstraZeneca, £1 million in 2012. While Lowth will leave AstraZeneca plc (NYSE:AZN) (LON:AZN) in October, BG Group plc (OTCMKTS:BRGYY) (LON:BG) has not announced his official start date. AstraZeneca is in the process of finding a new CFO.