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Court papers outline an angry showdown between Pascal Soriot and a departing Luke Miels

Pascal Soriot has known and worked with Luke Miels for more than a decade. He mentored Miels at Aventis, recruited him to Roche and then wooed him on to AstraZeneca after taking the helm 5 years ago. But when GSK offered him a new job as pharma chief, the gloves came off.

According to a report in The Sunday Times, Soriot took offense when Miels told him about his new job. Miels could go anywhere, he reportedly told him, except to his UK rivals at GSK. And he allegedly angrily reminded Miels that AstraZeneca had sponsored the work visa he needed to live in the UK.

Luke Miels

Citing court papers, The Times says that Soriot became upset after Miels turned down a counter offer, noting that “he better not be working for GSK and reminded Mr Miels that the work visa permitting him and his family to live in the UK had been sponsored by the claimant. This was a threat by Mr Soriot which was intended to, and did, unsettle Mr Miels.”

AstraZeneca denied that Soriot threatened Miels or that their meeting was anything but cordial.

AstraZeneca and GSK, though, have come to an agreement over the Miels issue. After forcing the pharma exec to go on gardening leave, Miels now plans to join GSK in the fall.

This is a crucial year for AstraZeneca, which faces the looming disclosure of data from its big combo study for durvalumab and tremelimumab. 2017 marks Soriot’s promised trough year, vowing to start building revenue to about twice their current level. The pharma giant has had some good outcomes in the cancer field over the past year, but experienced a slate of setbacks in other areas.


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