Alexion's Shakeup Continues as Four Executives Exit -- 2nd Update

By Bowdeya Tweh and Jonathan D. Rockoff Features Dow Jones Newswires

Alexion Pharmaceuticals Inc.'s new chief executive is reshaping the top ranks of the organization following an internal investigation into sales practices prompted by a former employee.

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Ludwig Hantson, who was named Alexion's chief executive in March, will have a new chief financial officer because Dave Anderson, who joined the company in December after more than a decade as CFO at Honeywell International Inc., plans to leave in August. Mr. Anderson had replaced Vikas Sinha, who abruptly resigned last year along with CEO David Hallal during the sales practices investigation.

Three other company executives -- Alexion's chief commercial officer, its head of research and development, and its chief human resources officer -- are also leaving, Alexion said Tuesday.

Mr. Hantson had replaced David Brennan, who had served as interim CEO.

"Ludwig is a talented and capable CEO," a company spokesman said Tuesday. "The company is recruiting a strong CFO to join with him in the long term to drive growth and profitability."

Shares in Alexion fell 9.7% to $104.18 in midday trading.

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Earlier this year, Alexion said it found senior management staff had pressured employees to get customers to order its flagship drug Soliris earlier than needed to meet financial targets. The disclosure followed an investigation into allegations made by a former employee.

Alexion, which produces treatments for rare disorders, generated nearly $3.1 billion of revenue in 2016 and it has a market value of $23.8 billion.

The executive overhaul suggests the new chief executive intends to "make a complete break from the company's past leadership" and install his own people to focus on Alexion's Soliris rare-disease drug franchise and to revive the pipeline, according to Leerink Partners analyst Geoffrey Porges. Wall Street has faulted previous management for bad deals like the $8.4 billion Synageva BioPharma acquisition, and Mr. Hantson himself has described the company's pipeline as lacking.

"After these removals and replacements, none of the management team that built the Soliris business, or presided over the value-destroying Synageva deal in 2015, remain in place," Mr. Porges said in a research note.

While investors might be surprised by the CFO's replacement, the CFO wasn't expected to stay at the company more than a few years, and his efforts to improve company accounting practices will likely remain on track, Mr. Porges said.

Alexion said it had hired Brian Goff as its new chief commercial officer, and that searches to replace other executives are under way.

--Rheaa Rao contributed to this article.

Write to Bowdeya Tweh at Bowdeya.Tweh@wsj.com and Jonathan D. Rockoff at Jonathan.Rockoff@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

May 23, 2017 13:15 ET (17:15 GMT)