Directors step down after Vectura tobacco takeover

Directors step down after Vectura tobacco takeover

The two most senior directors who were in charge of Vectura, the respiratory drugs firm, at the time of its £1 billion takeover by Philip Morris International have stepped down.

Will Downie and Paul Fry quit their respective roles as chief executive and chief financial officer following the completion of the deal with the maker of Marlboro cigarettes last year. The bid provoked a fierce backlash from public health experts.

Vectura, which is based in Chippenham, Wiltshire, and was a constituent of the FTSE 250 before the takeover, is a developer of inhalers and medicines for smoking-related conditions. It was founded in 1997 as a biotech company to commercialise respiratory pharmaceutical technologies originating from Bath University and floated on the junior Aim market in 2004.

A coalition of public health bodies, clinicians and charities wrote to Vectura’s shareholders and its board warning that the takeover by the US cigarette company could “significantly hamper Vectura’s ability to continue operating as a viable, research-oriented business”.

Jacek Olczak, Philip Morris’s chief executive, defended the acquisition, saying that Vectura was central to Philip Morris’s diversification to a “healthcare and wellness company” and its plans to generate $1 billion from “beyond nicotine and tobacco” by 2025.

Jorge Insuasty, chief life sciences officer at Philip Morris, said yesterday: “Since joining Vectura, Will and Paul have developed Vectura into a leading inhaled therapeutic products company. The respect and esteem in which Vectura employees hold them is rightly high, and we thank Will and Paul for their leadership and stewardship of the company.”
Source: The Times