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AstraZeneca share price: Pharmco starts CEO succession planning

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AstraZeneca (LON:AZN) has begun succession planning for its chief executive Pascal Soriot, following shareholder pressure, The Sunday times has revealed. The news comes after the Anglo-Swedish drugmaker suffered a blow last week, posting disappointing results from its highly-anticipated MYSTIC trial, which showed that the combination of its oncology drug Imfinzi and antibody treatment tremelimumab had not improved overall survival compared to standard-of-care chemotherapy in patients with a specific type of lung cancer.

AstraZeneca’s share price has been subdued in London this morning, having given up 0.37 percent to 6,181.00p as of 09:44 GMT. The stock is underperforming the broader UK market, with the benchmark FTSE 100 index currently standing 0.27 percent higher at 7,032.62 points. The group’s shares have added just under a quarter to their value over the past year, as compared with about a 4.7-percent drop in the Footsie.

AstraZeneca starts succession planning

The Sunday Times reported yesterday that AstraZeneca was understood to have engaged headhunters to assess internal candidates to replace Pascal Soriot, its chief executive of six years. The work is believed to be limited to drawing up a list of possible candidates, rather than a formal search for a replacement, with potential candidates including senior executives Mene Pangalos and Ruud Dobber.

The newspaper notes that while Soriot is not expected to leave imminently, and has recently said he has “no plans to move on,” the pharmco’s shareholders have nevertheless warned the company needs to prepare.

Analysts on Anglo-Swedish drugmaker

Barclays, which is ‘overweight’ on AstraZeneca, boosted its price target on the stock from 6,600p to 6,800p today, while on Friday, Goldman Sachs, which rates the company as a ‘sell,’ set a valuation of 4,080p on the shares. According to MarketBeat, the blue-chip group currently has a consensus ‘hold’ rating and an average price target of 5,905.53p.

As of 09:57 GMT, Monday, 19 November, AstraZeneca plc share price is 6,217.00p.

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