AstraZeneca chief executive Sir Tom McKillop will step down from his post at the end of 2005, to be succeeded by David Brennan, the company's current vice president, North America.
McKillop and Brennan announced the changes during a conference call with reporters today on first half results.
Brennan said, "While I don't take up the reigns until 2006, I am looking forward to moving to London and working with Tom to ensure that we have a smooth handover while making sure our U.S. and Canadian business continue to perform strongly."
No time frame has been given to find a replacement for the vacancy Brennan leaves behind.
"My goal (right now) is to spend some time here in London to make sure there is a smooth transition from Tom to me," Brennan said, explaining his new job will require him to be permanently based at AstraZeneca's London headquarters.
McKillop is rumored to be joining the Royal Bank of Scotland as deputy chairman in a prelude to replace current chairman for George Mathewson, who is slated to retire next year.
McKillop was scheduled to step down as AstraZeneca chief executive in March but stayed on while chairman Louis Schweitzer settled into his job.
Meanwhile, AstraZeneca reported a 50 percent increase in second quarter net profit, which came to $1.2 billion, up from $816 million. Sales rose from $6.1 billion from $5.2 billion.
Sales of Nexium rose 22 percent to $2.2 billion in the first half and sales of Crestor were up 72 percent to $590 million.