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Verona Pharma draft in two new "highly experienced" execs to lead the business into the next phase

David Zaccardelli has replaced Jan-Anders Karlsson as chief executive, while Mark Hahn has been brought in as chief financial officer

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Verona Pharma PLC (LON:VRP, NASDAQ:VRNA) said David Zaccardelli has replaced Jan-Anders Karlsson as chief executive, while Mark Hahn has been drafted in as chief financial officer.

The respiratory drugs specialist said Karlsson was retiring after eight years with the company and will pursue non-executive roles, while former CFO, Piers Morgan will remain in place until the end of the month “to provide an efficient transition and complete required financial reporting”.

The two new senior hires have come from Dova Pharmaceuticals, which was last year sold to Swedish Orphan Biovitrum AB in a US$915mln deal.

Verona said Zaccardelli “brings substantial specialty pharmaceutical leadership and operational expertise”, while Hahn, a “seasoned pharmaceutical finance executive”, helped Dova and previous employer Cempra Inc raise over US$600mln in funding.

“They are highly experienced leaders with a proven track record of working together to create significant value for shareholders,” said Verona chairman, Dr David Ebsworth.

“We believe we have a strong team in place to lead Verona Pharma into its next phase of growth.”

The new CEO and CFO will be based in North Carolina along with the majority of the company’s clinical team.

Broker Shore Capital said it was “somewhat surprised” by the management changes, and the market, similarly, appeared to be a little wrong-footed by the announcement as the shares fell 6.7% to 49p.

But Shore, in a note, pointed out: “Both Dr Zaccardelli and Mr Hahn bring significant experience, financial, operational and commercial, to lead Verona through its next phase of late-stage development.

“Further with the senior management team based in the US we would anticipate a more active US capital markets strategy and see this as a positive.”

---adds broker comment---

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Price: 43.5 GBX

AIM:VRP
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Market Cap: £46.32 m
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