AstraZeneca Appoints Johansson as Chairman

AstraZeneca announced yesterday that they have appointed Swedish executive Leif Johansson from telecoms group Ericsson as chairman.

Leif Johansson will be proposed to shareholders for election as a Non-Executive Director at the Company’s Annual General Meeting on 26 April 2012, with the aim that he will take over completely from Louis Schweitzer on the 1 September 2012, when Schweitzer plans to retire.

Subject to shareholder approval, Leif Johansson will join the Board with effect from 26 April 2012.

AstraZeneca had previously been struggling to find a replacement for Louis Schweitzer, with it previously being intended for him to stand for re-election at the annual meeting in April.

Johansson spent 14 years at the helm of Swedish truckmaker Volvo before becoming chairman of Ericsson last April.  Before working at Volvo, Johansson ran Swedish home appliances maker Electrolux for three years.  He gained pharmaceutical experience by serving on the board of Bristol-Myers Squibb as a non-executive director from 1998 until last September.

His selection will strengthen AstraZeneca’s Swedish ties, which had been weakened with the closure of several research centres.  AstraZeneca has cut nearly 30,000 jobs globally since 2007, with Sweden bearing the main burden of the latest cuts to its research and development staff.

Louis Schweitzer, AstraZeneca’s current chairman said: “I am delighted that we are able to announce the Board’s decision to propose Leif Johansson to shareholders for election to the Board at the AGM in April and to appoint him to succeed me as Chairman on 1 September.  Leif is an outstanding businessman with a first-class track record leading multinational companies, as well as previous experience of the pharmaceutical industry.”

Michele Hooper also plans to retire from the Board at the close of the AGM on the 26 April after nine years’ service as a Non-Executive Director.  She is currently AstraZeneca senior independent Non-Executive Director, Chairman of the Audit Committee and a member of the Nomination and Governance Committee.

Former Barclays chief executive, John Varley, who chairs AstraZeneca’s remuneration committee, will take over as senior independent Non-Executive Director at the annual meeting in April.


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