AstraZeneca CFO Lowth Will Leave U.K. Drugmaker for BG

AstraZeneca Plc Chief Financial Officer Simon Lowth will leave the U.K.’s second-biggest drugmaker at the end of October to join natural-gas producer BG Group Plc as CFO.

A search for Lowth’s successor is under way, London-based AstraZeneca said today in a statement. The effective date of Lowth’s appointment remains to be confirmed, BG Group said today in a separate statement.

Lowth, 51, joined AstraZeneca in 2007 after working at Scottish Power Plc and consulting firm McKinsey & Co. He steered the company on an interim basis after the June 2012 departure of Chief Executive Officer David Brennan. Pascal Soriot, a former Roche Holding AG executive, was chosen in August to replace Brennan, and Lowth returned to the CFO role.

“Simon has made a significant and lasting contribution to AstraZeneca’s success, helping put the company on a stronger footing for the future,” Soriot said in the statement. “I will miss our interactions and I would like to thank him for all his support over the last few months.”

AstraZeneca fell 0.2 percent to 3,262 pence at the close in London. The stock has gained 17 percent this year, including reinvested dividends, compared with a 29 percent return for the Bloomberg Europe Pharmaceutical Index. BG Group rose 0.6 percent to 1,185 pence, and has returned 17 percent this year.

Lowth’s Pay

Lowth will be paid his base salary and benefits until the end of October and will receive no payments for the remainder of the notice period, AstraZeneca said. He won’t be eligible to receive an annual bonus for 2013 and all outstanding long-term incentive awards made under the share performance plan and AstraZeneca investment plan will lapse in accordance with rules on departures, the company said.

“The timing is unexpected, but I thought he would move on at some point,” after being passed over for the permanent CEO job, Alistair Campbell, a London-based analyst at Berenberg, said in a phone interview.

Lowth will succeed Den Jones, who has been interim CFO since February at BG Group, the U.K.’s third-largest natural-gas producer.

“BG Group is an outstanding company in a sector that I know well and I look forward to working with the team to build on its successes,” Lowth said in the BG Group statement.

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