Is This the End of Axovant?

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Axovant Sciences Ltd. (NASDAQ: AXON) saw its shares take a big step back to start out the week after the company announced that there would be some changes at the executive level. The main takeaway is that Dr. David Hung is resigning from his role as chief executive officer, among other board members. After seeing the stock’s performance over the past year, it looks more like everyone is abandoning ship.

Ultimately, Hung resigned to pursue other opportunities and has also resigned from the firm’s board of directors, but he will still continue as scientific advisor to the Roivant family of companies.

Additionally, President and Chief Operating Officer (COO) Marion McCourt also has resigned to pursue another opportunity, and directors Kate Falberg, Tony Vernon and Patrick Machado have resigned as members of the board of directors.

In turn, Dr. Pavan Cheruvu has joined Axovant as CEO. Roger Jeffs, Ph.D., former president and co-CEO of United Therapeutics, and George Bickerstaff, former CFO of Novartis Pharma, have joined the Axovant board of directors.

Excluding Monday’s move, Axovant had vastly underperformed the broad markets, with its stock down about 64% year to date. Over the past 52 weeks, the stock was down over 85%.

Vivek Ramaswamy, CEO of Roivant Sciences and chair of Axovant’s board of directors, commented:

I would like to thank David for his commitment to Axovant over the past ten months, and we wish him well in his future endeavors. Roivant remains firmly committed to Axovant’s long-term success. Axovant will need to operate as a lean, entrepreneurial organization in the near term. In that context, Pavan is the right leader for the company at this time. Pavan is emblematic of the future industry leaders we hope to cultivate within Roivant, and I have full confidence in his ability to rebuild Axovant.

Dr. Cheruvu added:

I am excited for the opportunity to lead Axovant, and I look forward to getting started. Our top priorities are to expand the pipeline with high-quality product candidates, solidify next steps for nelotanserin and RVT-104, and ensure operational excellence across all areas of the business. We will provide a comprehensive update on the company’s strategy by mid-year. Given Axovant’s strong cash position, we are starting from a solid foundation from which to rebuild the company’s value.

Shares of Axovant were last seen down about 20% at $1.52, with a consensus analyst price target of $11.50 and a 52-week range of $1.47 to $27.98.