AstraZeneca’s finance chief joins BG Group

Suzie Neuwirth
SIMON Lowth, the chief financial officer (CFO) of pharmaceuticals giant AstraZeneca, is leaving after six years with the firm to join oil and gas explorer BG Group, the companies announced yesterday.

Lowth will leave at the end of October and will replace BG’s interim CFO Den Jones, who took over in February after Fabio Barbosa fell ill and subsequently retired.

Speculation had circulated that Lowth might leave AstraZeneca after his promotion to interim chief executive last year failed to become permanent, with the role going to outsider Pascal Soriot instead.

He will receive a basic salary of £725,000 in his new role – an increase from his current £600,000 pay packet – and compensation in the form of BG shares to offset the loss of his AstraZeneca bonus.

Lowth previously worked at management consultancy McKinsey, before joining energy provider Scottish Power, where he climbed the ranks to become finance director in 2005.

Lowth comes into his new role at a challenging time for the FTSE 100-listed oil and gas producer.

BG Group posted a fall in profits and production over the first quarter and political risks continue to surround its Egyptian business, which makes up a fifth of its output.

“Simon knows the gas and power industry well and has a good background in engineering,” said BG chief executive Chris Finlayson.

AstraZeneca said a search for Lowth’s successor is underway.

BG Group’s shares closed 0.6 per cent higher at 1,185p yesterday. AstraZeneca’s fell 0.15 per cent to 3,262p.