SynAct Pharma appoints Torbjørn Bjerke as new CEO

SynAct Pharma AB (publ) (“SynAct”) today announced the appointment of the company’s current Chairman Torbjørn Bjerke MD, as its new Chief Executive Officer (CEO), effective as from the Annual General Meeting to be held on May 25, 2023. Dr. Bjerke succeeds Jeppe Øvlesen, who will remain a committed shareholder of the company. The Nomination Committee will propose to the Annual General Meeting that the current board member Uli Hacksell should be appointed as new Chairman of the Board.

“We are happy to welcome Torbjørn as our new CEO of SynAct. SynAct Pharma is in a transformational phase with next important clinical data in second half of this year. Having been the company’s Chairman since 2016, Torbjørn has excellent first-hand knowledge of SynAct. Also, he has great knowledge in developing successful new medicines, a fantastic global network of investors and pharma companies and extensive proven track record in business development and deal making,” said Uli Hacksell, proposed new Chairman of the Board. “We want to express our gratitude and appreciation to Jeppe for his leadership of SynAct since 2015 and being instrumental in a number of pivotal events, including the listings at Spotlight and subsequently Nasdaq Stockholm. Under Jeppe´s leadership Synact Pharma has gone from being a private company to become a valuable public company with more than 14,000 shareholders. The board accepts that he now wants to hand over the responsibility to Torbjørn who can take SynAct Pharma to the next level.”

Jeppe Øvlesen, retiring CEO of SynAct, said: “The last nine years have been an incredible journey as an entrepreneur, and I could not be prouder to hand over the baton to Torbjørn. I have been working with Torbjørn for 23 years and strongly believe that his strategic leadership and deep knowledge in biotech and securing high value partnerships make him the right next CEO to deliver tremendous value to all stakeholders, including both patients and shareholders. I will remain a committed, long-term shareholder.”

Dr. Torbjørn Bjerke commented: “Having been part of the SynAct family now for seven years, I am deeply impressed with what the company has developed in a short period of time under the leadership of Jeppe. To have a platform of molecules with the lead AP1189 that can potentially transform the way we treat inflammatory diseases like rheumatoid arthritis is very unique. It will be exciting to work with the management team and board in my new capacity and lead the company to further success. We have much to do preparing our potential partners and shareholders for the next clinical results in EXPAND and RESOLVE in parallel to developing our extensive preclinical pipeline. In addition, we need to increase the knowledge about SynAct Pharma both in Sweden and in the global arena”

Dr. Bjerke will leave his current position as Partner and portfolio manager at Arctic Asset Management. He will continue as Chairman of the advisory board of Arctic Aurora LifeScience and Biotech Select, member of the board of Biothea and Chairman of the board of Carelight Ltd. He previously served as the president and CEO of Karolinska Development AB from 2011 to 2014. Prior to that, Dr Bjerke was the president and CEO of Orexo AB, a position he held from 2007 until January 2011. Previously, he was president and CEO of Biolipox AB, Executive Vice President, R&D, ALK Abello, and director of pharmacology at AstraZeneca. Dr. Bjerke holds a MD in medicine from Aarhus Universitet, Denmark.

Dr. Bjerke is cofounder of Action Pharma AS and TXP Pharma GmbH.