Vivus's top shareholder proposes former AstraZeneca exec as CEO

July 2 Tue Jul 2, 2013 8:24am EDT

July 2 (Reuters) - Vivus Inc's largest shareholder First Manhattan Co said it proposed a former senior executive of AstraZeneca Plc as chief executive of the obesity drug maker, a move that could swing shareholder support for the activist investor's board slate ahead of a proxy vote.

Anthony Zook, who was executive vice-president for global commercial operations at AstraZeneca until February, helped in launch some of the British drug giant's biggest products, including the blockbuster heartburn drug Nexium and cholesterol medicine Crestor.

First Manhattan, owner of 9.9 percent of Vivus shares, has repeatedly criticized the drug maker for mishandling the launch of its obesity drug Qsymia.

First Manhattan put forth a slate of nine candidates that it hopes will win seats on the Vivus board at the shareholder meeting on July 15.