Way over bud­get and years late — As­traZeneca’s mas­sive HQ project of­fers a trou­bling sym­bol

When Pas­cal So­ri­ot took the helm at a deeply trou­bled As­traZeneca five years ago, one of his first acts was to slash staff and bold­ly blue­print a large new head­quar­ters fa­cil­i­ty in Cam­bridge in the UK, where com­pa­ny sci­en­tists and top aca­d­e­mics could brush shoul­ders and spark fresh in­no­va­tion. And he planned to move in last year.

On Tues­day, though, the CEO turned out at a cer­e­mo­ny to make the com­ple­tion of just one stage of con­struc­tion. And So­ri­ot had to con­cede that the build­ing — in­tend­ed to sym­bol­ize the phar­ma gi­ant’s em­brace of the lat­est tech­nolo­gies and sci­en­tif­ic in­sights on drug R&D — had al­so come to rep­re­sent the com­pa­ny’s in­abil­i­ty to stay on sched­ule with its turn­around plan.

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