Hikma hires new Icelandic chief executive to breathe life into the company’s fortunes

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Embattled pharmaceuticals giant Hikma, which has been struggling to get a key asthma drug to market, has hired a new chief executive to breathe life into the company’s fortunes.

The London-listed, Jordanian company surprised the City by bringing in Icelandic chief Sigurdur Olafsson, known as Siggi, to start straight away.

Hikma shares climbed 7.7% to 1013p, but the share price has more than halved since the start of January after a series of gloomy announcements in which the company cut its forecasts for its generics drugs business.

Hikma has been working on a copycat version of GSK’s blockbuster asthma inhaler, Advair, but in May the US Food and Drug Administration withheld approval, saying it needed significant improvements.

Hikma has also been feeling pricing pressure from its US drugs business, where health insurers have been forcing down prices.

Said Darwazah, the son of Hikma’s founder and its current chairman and CEO, moves upstairs to become executive chairman.