Alexion CEO David Hallal leaves abruptly

  • Signs for push-out forces
  • After less than two years on the job
  • David Brennan takes over in the interim
  • Search for a successor

( — New Haven, Connecticut, December 12, 2016 — David Hallal, chief executive of Alexion, leaves. It is an abrupt change. As announced by Alexion Pharmaceuticals, Inc. in a news release and in a regulatory filing published on Monday, December 12, 2016, David L. Hallal has already left the post as Chief Executive Officer at the pharmaceutical company in a surprising move after less than two years on the job, effective December 11, 2016.

No company wants a CEO to flame out in the first years.

Alexion will undertake a search for a successor.

Hallal’s duties are taken over in the interim by David R. Brennan, a former Chief Executive Officer at AstraZeneca PLC.

Already a director

Brennan is already a director of Alexion. Often a board member is a last resort, someone who is turned to in desperation when a company can’t find other suitable candidates. On the other hand, directors-turned-executives represent a blend of outsider and insider.

They don’t have the constraints of a pure insider when it comes to leading painful changes or making unpopular decisions, and they have more company knowledge than a pure outsider.

Having been a director, Brennan understands the expectations and dynamics of the board and has knowledge of Alexion’s organization, finances and strategy.

The move is part of a management shake-up.

In addition, the Board announced that David J. Anderson, the former Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of Honeywell for 11 years, has joined the Company as Chief Financial Officer, effective immediately. Anderson succeeds Vikas Sinha, who has left Alexion “to pursue other opportunities”.

“For personal reasons”

Hallal’s move is explained as follows. Alexion said: David Hallal “has resigned for personal reasons, effective immediately”.


Alexion said: Hallal “resigned for personal reasons as Chief Executive Officer and as a director of the Company on December 11, 2016”.

Precise information about the future plans of Hallal was not immediately available.

Share price decline

The change follows a sharp decline in the share price of Alexion Pharmaceuticals, Inc. since December 2015.

Chaired by Leonard Bell

Alexion Pharmaceuticals, Inc. is chaired by Leonard Bell.

Leonard Bell, M.D., is Chairman of Alexion’s Board of Directors. He was a principal founder of Alexion in 1992 and served as the Chief Executive Officer from the Company’s inception until April 2015.

On the job as CEO since 2015

Hallal was appointed Alexion’s second CEO in its 24-year history in April 2015.

Prior to becoming CEO, Hallal was Chief Operating Officer, directing strategic enterprise-wide initiatives that focused on diverse aspects of Alexion’s business, including the expansion of the company’s research and development pipeline and manufacturing operations.

Previously, Hallal was Alexion’s first Chief Commercial Officer.

Hallal joined Alexion in 2006 to build the company’s commercial operations and he led the introduction of Soliris (eculizumab), the company’s first product for two ultra-rare diseases.

He played a principal role in leading many significant growth initiatives including the development of Alexion’s 50-country operating platform.

In addition to his leadership of all global commercial operations, Hallal has been responsible for country operations in each of Alexion’s affiliates in Europe/Middle East/Africa (EMEA), Japan, Australasia, and Latin America.

Hallal has more than 25 years of experience in the biopharmaceutical industry.

Before joining Alexion, he advanced through positions of increasing responsibility in sales, marketing and management at Amgen, Biogen, and OSI Eyetech directing product launches in the areas of hematology, oncology, nephrology and immunology.

Hallal is a member of the Board of Directors of the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America and the Biotechnology Industry Organization.

He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of New Hampshire.


Generally speaking, when a top leader announces to step aside with no permanent successor in place, it’s a sign that the change was unplanned and too early.

Signs for push-out forces

It is not completely certain what forces eventually triggered David L. Hallal’s move.

The Push-out Score™ determined by suggests that push-out forces may have contributed to the management change.

Read the full story in the report 47.2016 ($).