Strategy & Operations » Leadership & Management » AstraZeneca CFO to join BG Group

SIMON LOWTH, chief financial officer of AstraZeneca is to leave the drug maker in order to join oil and gas company BG Group in the same role.

Lowth is set to leave the pharmaceutical company for BG when it reports its third quarter results at the end of October, having joined the company in November 2007.

He succeeds interim CFO Dem Jones and ends the company’s search for a successor to Fabio Barbosa, who stepped down in February for health reasons.

Though Lowth’s departure from AstraZeneca was not planned, analysts had expected him to look elsewhere after he was passed over as chief executive last year, according to the Financial Times.

During his time at AstraZeneca, Lowth has helped the company improve productivity, cash management, and capital allocation as it transitions through a period of patent expirations and was most recently in charge of its business in Japan in addition to responsibility for finance and investor relations.

Prior to joining AstraZeneca, he worked at Scottish Power from 2003 to 2007. As corporate strategy director, Lowth is credited with introducing value-based planning and performance metrics, while moving the company’s strategic focus to organic investment. In 2005, he was appointed finance director, successfully leading a drive to improve both earnings and cash generation.

He previously spent 15 years working for McKinsey & Company, latterly as the drector responsible for the UK industrial practice.

Commenting on the appointment, BG Group chief executive Chris Finlayson said: “He brings with him a great combination of finance, capital allocation, value-based planning, portfolio management and strategy skills – critical skills as we execute our strategy to deliver long-term value to shareholders and focus on excellence in execution”.

BG Group said Lowth will be paid a basic salary of £725,000, in line with industry CFO peers and will compensate him in the form of BG Group shares for the loss of any of his 2013 AstraZeneca annual bonus incurred as a result of his resignation.

AstraZeneca has begun a search for Lowth’s successor, who will take over the finances of a company that has experienced five consecutive quarters of falling sales partly as a result of expiring patents.