Glaxosmithkline defies activist Elliott to name boss of consumer arm

Glaxosmithkline defies activist ‘vulture fund’ Elliott and appoints a boss to run consumer arm ahead of its separation

Glaxosmithkline’s board has defied activist investor Elliott Management and pressed ahead with appointing a boss of the consumer arm ahead of its separation.

The pharmaceuticals company confirmed that Brian McNamara will stay in his role as head of the division when it is spun off and listed in its own right next year.

The announcement came despite a demand from Elliott for GSK to launch a six-month review of who should lead the division – as well as another review into who should lead the remaining pharmaceuticals and vaccine company.

Glaxosmithkline has confirmed that Brian McNamara will stay in his role as boss of the division when it is spun off and listed in its own right next year

That would effectively have required GSK boss Emma Walmsley to apply for her own job.

GSK chairman Sir Jonathan Symonds said: ‘We are delighted to announce Brian’s appointment to lead the proposed new consumer healthcare company, following a thorough process conducted by the board.’

GSK said the ‘extensive search and selection process’ had involved interviews with several external and internal candidates.

McNamara joined GSK from Novartis in 2015, where he was head of the over-the-counter drugs division.

Ahead of the separation of GSK’s consumer business, efforts are also under way to choose a separate chairman and board for the division. 

The chairman is expected to be in place before the end of the year. GSK’s consumer division boasts £10billion in annual sales and is expected to take a place in the FTSE 100 index on its own.

Last month GSK confirmed plans to give 80 per cent of shares in the newly listed business to current shareholders. The remaining 20 per cent will be sold off over time to raise cash.

However, Elliott criticised the plans and said an outright sale of consumer should be considered.

The US group also claimed the firm suffered from a lack of ‘credibility’ under Walmsley.