AstraZeneca in search for deals as revenue falls

Julian Harris
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ANGLO-SWEDISH pharma giant AstraZeneca (AZ) will turn to new deals in an effort to stem the decline in its sales, new chief executive Pascal Soriot said yesterday.

AZ reported a worse than expected 19 per cent tumble in revenue to $6.68bn (£41.4bn) in its third quarter as the company battles a dwindling pipeline of new drugs while patents on existing products expire.

Even at constant exchange rates, sales were down 15 per cent, AZ said.

“One of the critical things we need to do in the mid-term is to bolster our pipeline and that will rely on business development activities, there is no question about it,” Soriot said.

Soriot, a veteran of the pharmaceutical industry with first hand experience of successful mergers, was appointed as the new head of AZ at the beginning of the month.

He replaced former CEO David Brennan who quit the role abruptly at the end of April this year, following discontent from major investors.

“Loss of exclusivity on several key brands – including Seroquel IR from the end of March – accounted for most of the revenue decline,” AZ commented yesterday.

Pre-tax profit dipped by 51 per cent to $2.05bn, for the three months to 30 September, its accounts said.

On his first day in the job, on 1 October, Soriot’s reign began with the firm suspending its share repurchase programme – a move seen as freeing up funds for potential acquisitions.

Its share price dropped by one per cent on the day of the news, hitting 2,861p during the middle of the month. Yesterday it rose early on, and ended up 0.42 per cent at 2,895.05p.