Frenchman to take over as AstraZeneca CEO

Anglo-Swedish drugs giant AstraZeneca on Tuesday named Frenchman Pascal Soriot, the current boss of Roche's pharmaceuticals division, as its new chief executive.

Frenchman to take over as AstraZeneca CEO

“AstraZeneca today announced that Pascal Soriot has been appointed as the company’s chief executive officer,” the London-listed company said in a statement.

“Pascal Soriot will take on his new responsibilities and join the AstraZeneca PLC board as an executive director on 1 October 2012.”

Soriot, 53, will replace American David Brennan, who stepped down in June amid slumping profits and fierce competition from generic drugmakers.

“I am excited and honoured to have been asked to lead AstraZeneca,” said Soriot, who has been chief operating officer of Roche’s drugs division since 2010 and joined the pharmaceuticals industry in 1986.

He added: “No-one is blind to the challenges that confront the pharmaceutical sector and this company, but the underlying strengths of AstraZeneca in delivering on its strategy are clear.

“AstraZeneca will continue to make a positive difference to patients over the longer term and I’m looking forward to playing my part in shaping that future.”

Chief financial officer Simon Lowth had served as interim chief executive

following Brennan’s resignation.

Astra Zeneca in May slashed their work force in Södertälje, south of Stockholm, by 400 members of staff, as part of a major cutback of 1,100 jobs that the company had announced in February.

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Ericsson to slash 2,200 jobs across Sweden

UPDATED: Swedish telecom giant Ericsson is set to cut 2,200 jobs in Sweden, the company has announced in a press release.

Ericsson to slash 2,200 jobs across Sweden
Ericsson CEO Hans Vestberg. Photo: Jonas Ekströmer/TT

Workers will be laid off at the company's offices in Stockholm, Katrineholm, Borås, Kumla, Göteborg, Linköping and Karlskrona.

Sweden's capital Stockholm will be hit the worst, with 1,125 staff being let go. 200 jobs will go in Borås, 140 in Gothenburg, 130 in Kumla, 120 in Linköping and 85 in Karlskrona. The facility in Katrineholm will shut down completely.

According to the company, negotiations with unions are underway and workers affected by the layoffs will receive notice in June.

"This hits incredibly hard at all those who work at Ericsson and have loyally worked for the company's development. It also hits all the towns affected and especially Katrineholm," the chairman of Swedish union IF Metall, Anders Ferbe, said in a statement.

"We have seen factory upon factory being dismantled in the telecom and pharmaceutical industries – which used to be the pride of Sweden. There is a risk that research and development will go down the same path if we don't act," he added.

The layoffs are part of a money saving bid to save almost 9 billion kronor ($1bn) worldwide by 2017, said the Ericsson press release.

And telecom analyst Daniel Djurberg at Swedish bank Handelsbanken told news wire TT that the decision did not come as a surprise.

"If a company has to save nine billion, you can predict that employees and consultants will have to go," he said.

The move comes amid a week of turmoil for the Swedish telecom industry, after an announcement by Sony Mobile on Monday to cut 1,000 jobs at its facility in Lund.

Chief economist Jesper Ahlgren at liberal thinktank Timbro was among those warning that the wave of layoffs may pose challenges for Sweden to compete on the world market.

"It is a concern, particularly when it involves the research intensive companies. In Sweden it's mainly a few large private companies, like Ericsson and Astra Zeneca, who put a lot of effort into research. It is difficult to see how we would be able to maintain our competitive power if they downsize," he told The Local on Wednesday morning.

"This puts a lot of pressure on the government to act. Sweden needs to get its act together. We are very dependent on big companies for research and we need to look not only at how we support them, but also at how we encourage new companies to also take up the mantle," he added.

Ericsson CEO Hans Vestberg said the decision was inevitable and added more cutbacks are to be expected around the world.

"The view people ought to take of Ericsson is that we consolidate our position as world leaders in all the areas we work in. Unfortunately that also means a constant streamlining process," he told news wire TT.

Sweden's Enterprise Minister Mikael Damberg was told of the layoffs on Tuesday evening.

"I have appointed a group of secretaries of state from five ministries to co-ordinate the government offices' work on this issue, to stay in touch with local and regional actors and to ensure that the government offices are ready to act," he told TT.