Astra Boss Hit With $7M Fine for Sex Harassment; Reps Share Memories of Bonkers CEO

Last Updated Oct 6, 2009 10:37 AM EDT

Lars Bildman, the former CEO of Astra (which later merged with Zeneca to form AstraZeneca), must pay back nearly $7 million in salary and bonuses he earned from 1991 through 1996 because his sexual harassment of underlings hit the company with a $10 million settlement in 1998:
Bildman, the Swedish-born executive at the center of the case, yesterday said he is retired and living in Vermont on Social Security. He said his wife divorced him as a result of the case and that he has spent nearly all the money he earned defending himself in court.
"Of course I am disappointed,'' Bildman said. "It would be impossible not to be disappointed. The money doesn't concern me at all. I have no money, so it will be uncollectable.''
But what was it like working for Bildman? Eight hours of work, eight hours of sleep and eight hours of play, if former Astra pharmaceutical sales reps are to be believed. Bildman's company was a non-stop frat party, according to this 1996 BusinessWeek expose (part 1, part 2) that brought Bildman down:
The gung-ho partying often turned boisterous. At one Fort Lauderdale meeting, dozens of men in tuxedos and women ended up in the hotel swimming pool. Many ended up sleeping on the pool lounge chairs that night.
At another meeting, held at the exclusive Sagamore resort in upstate New York in 1991, the partying got so out of control, say several people present, that people threw dishes out the window and burned furnishings in the fireplace.
After hotel managers threatened to call the police, the group checked out the next morning. ``Their behavior was unbelievably unprofessional,'' says a hotel official. ``I've never known this to happen with a corporate group.''
Even though Bildman replaced mothers and older female employees with young single women who were pressured into having sex, and spent company money on home repairs, vacations, and high-priced prostitutes, some remember working for Astra fondly. Here are some random quotes about life with Bildman from CafePharma:
Nothing better than watching some drunk Swede running down the hall after a hottie.
Nothing like giving a bunch of young reps their bonus checks in Ft. Lauderdale. Next stop...Doll House with upper management, a handful of hotties and a couple of guys who thought outloud....'this situation is making me uncomfortable...'
Sewed many a wild oat at the Westboro Marriott. I really loved the 'finishing school' class that we had there. All about table manners, etc. Actually, very valuable in this industry. I wish they would offer it to the doctors that we call on. They are a bunch of social misfits.
I'll never forget when M. Nagle hit the car in front of him at the airport, while waving goodbye to Lacey. So happy to drop him off, that he totally didn't pay attention, from what I understand. That story still makes me laugh to this day.
More craziness here and here.