AstraZeneca CEO Pascal Soriot will host earnings call

LONDON: Anglo-Swedish pharmaceutical firm AstraZeneca said its Chief Executive, Pascal Soriot, would host a results call with reporters on July 27, after refusing to comment on speculation that he was leaving the firm.
Before announcing the earnings call, AstraZeneca had cited a policy of not commenting on market rumour or speculation. The cost of the two days of silence, after his quitting news appeared in a section of media, in terms of the company’s market capitalisation had been more than £3 billion ($3.9 billion).
An invitation sent to reporters after Friday’s market close in Europe said Soriot would be hosting the usual financial results call on July 27.
“You are invited to participate in a media teleconference hosted by Pascal Soriot, CEO, to discuss the results,” it said.
The timing of the news report alarmed investors, coming as the company waits for all-important data from a lung cancer drug trial which is seen as a game-changer for Astra.
The company is hoping to secure a substantial slice of a multi-billion dollar market by proving its combination of two immunotherapy drugs, durvalumab and tremelimumab, can help previously untreated patients with advanced lung cancer.
The results of the major trial, called MYSTIC, are due any day now.
One top 20 shareholder said there had been a “newsflow vacuum”.
“It’s hard because companies cannot be seen to be responding to every newspaper article because once you start you cannot stop. But as we all agree, if true, then timing is ‘interesting’,” the shareholder said, on condition of anonymity.
Analysts at Leerink, an investment bank that specialises in healthcare, said Soriot’s exit would come as a major surprise, if true, and leave AstraZeneca rudderless at a key time.
“We spoke with the company, who simply stated that it does not comment on rumours; however it did not outright deny the report,” they said. “If true, the optics around his departure would be terrible ahead of the MYSTIC readout.”
AstraZeneca has already been shaken by the departure of the head of its European business, Luke Miels, who defected to rival GlaxoSmithKline, and there have been a number of other senior management departures. — Reuters