AstraZeneca PLC's Cambridge Headcount Hits 2,000 as Its New HQ Hit Budget Woes

Published: Apr 27, 2017

AstraZeneca PLC's Cambridge Headcount Hits 2,000 as Its New HQ Hit Budget Woes April 26, 2017
By Alex Keown, BioSpace.com Breaking News Staff

CAMBRIDGE, England – As AstraZeneca continues to move its operations to the new headquarters in Cambridge, England, the company is running into some delays due to increased expenses on new technology and equipment, Reuters reported this morning.

The global pharma company is anticipating moving into the new corporate headquarters and global R&D center in 2018, with the site becoming fully operational in 2019. AstraZeneca already has a strong presence in Cambridge, with more than 2,000 employees based in the area.

This week AstraZeneca held a "topping out” ceremony at the Cambridge site to celebrate the completion of the new R&D site’s concrete frame. Now the site is scheduled to have its roof placed on, glass windows put in and then the internal construction, such as installing drywall, electric and plumbing will begin, Business Weekly reported.

AstraZeneca will incorporate an open concept into the construction of its laboratory spaces in order to facilitate collaborations among the employees. When complete, the facility is expected to become AstraZeneca’s largest global center for oncology research, as well as research focused on respiratory, cardiovascular and metabolic diseases, Business Weekly said.

“Our new global HQ and strategic R&D site embodies AstraZeneca’s innovation-led transformation and I am delighted to mark this milestone, which signals our progress in advancing a world-class environment where science can thrive,” Pascal Soriot, AstraZeneca’s chief executive officer said in a statement, as cited by Business Weekly. “As a long-standing investor in UK science, we believe Cambridge offers a tremendously vibrant academic and life-sciences ecosystem that can truly catalyze discovery and innovation. Together with our partners, we will push the boundaries of science to deliver innovative medicines that transform patient care around the world.”

AstraZeneca is facing a pivotal time as it anticipates falling profit and revenue streams this year as generic drugs eat into the marketshare of its blockbuster anti-cholesterol drug Crestor. However, the company believes new developmental drugs in its pipeline, including a combination lung cancer drug that underwent a clinical restructuring earlier this year, could become a new revenue driver.

As the company faces declining revenues, it has undertaken several steps to reorganize, including a restructuring plan and divesting itself of non-core assets. In 2016, Soriot announced the company was undergoing a restructuring plan to net savings of about $1.1 billion by the end of 2017. The restructuring plan will involve a $1.5 billion one-off restructuring charge, with total restructuring charges expected to be $2.4 billion through the end of 2017. In December, AstraZeneca announced layoffs of 700 employees in the company’s U.S. commercial business unit including sales and non-sales positions. AstraZeneca said in a statement that the cuts are part of a strategic transformation of its commercial business that will be “part of the company's return to growth strategy.”

In addition to layoffs, AstraZeneca has divested itself of properties that are not considered part of the company’s strategic investments. In October, the company struck a $330 million deal with Cilag GmbH International, an affiliate of Johnson & Johnson , for rights to Rhinocort Aqua outside the United States. The company also struck a $150 million deal with Insmed Incorporated for AZD7986, a novel oral inhibitor of dipeptidyl peptidase I. Also AstraZeneca sold the U.S. rights to Toprol-XL and its authorized generic to Canadian-based Aralez for $175 million. Toprol-XL, a cardioselective beta-blocker, is used for the treatment of hypertension alone or in combination with other antihypertensives.

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