Thursday, 2 February 2012

AstraZeneca Job Cuts

A year and a day after Pfizer announced the loss of thousands of R&D jobs in the UK, AstraZeneca today announced that they would be starting a new programme of restructuring which will impact around 7300 positions. Of these, 2200 will be in R&D – primarily from ending R&D at the Södertälje (Sweden) site, and closure of the Montreal (Canada) site. A further 1350 will be in Operations – which covers supply chain/manufacturing activities.

There are unofficial reports that while the majority of cuts are overseas, UK sites will not escape unscathed. The numbers suggested remain sizable – and official figures from the AZ press office will hopefully be published here shortly.

Most of the R&D restructure is being made in neuroscience – and AZ plan to create a “virtual” neuroscience unit of 40-50 scientists based in Boston (US) and Cambridge (UK). The latter location is mentioned in the press release as a neuroscience hub, and is where Pfizer established Neusentis last year to combine research in pain, sensory disorders and regenerative medicines.

Overall, the restructuring is expected to save $1.6bn/year. To increase shareholder value, AZ announced they would aim for net share repurchases of $4.5bn in 2012 – on top of the $5.6bn in 2011 – and the board has recommended an increase in dividend, increasing the full year dividend by 10%.

Good luck to everyone involved, and know that while this can be a difficult time, there are opportunities out there.

Finally, I'd recommend visiting Chemjobber, who blogs about chemistry news and job postings in the US. He’s also collating oral histories from those affected by chemical industry layoffs – these include advice regarding support, finances and job seeking experiences by real scientists that have been in the same position.

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