Top investor backs Glaxo boss Emma Walmsley boss in fight with Elliott

Top investor backs Glaxosmithkline boss Emma Walmsley boss in fight with Elliott

A leading investor has come to the defence of Glaxosmithkline boss Emma Walmsley amid talk that Wall Street activists could force her out. 

The top 20 shareholder, which declined to be named, said Walmsley should be ‘given time’ to push through a shake-up at the pharmaceuticals group and dis- missed suggestions of her removal. 

It said she had ‘done admirably’ since taking charge in 2017 and that big changes at pharmaceutical companies – which spend years developing drugs that may ultimately fail in trials – were ‘difficult’ to accomplish quickly. 

Glaxosmithkline boss Emma Walmsley has come under fire from US activist investor Elliot Mangement

There have been suggestions that Walmsley could be forced out, after US activist investor Elliott Management revealed a ‘multi-billion pound’ stake in GSK last week. 

The fund has a track record of aggressively agitating for change in boardrooms and company strategies, such as its campaign to force hotel and restaurant group Whitbread to sell Costa Coffee more speedily. 

But the top 20 investor said: ‘Since taking over the reins, Emma Walmsley has done admi- rably in our opinion.’ 

Since taking over as chief exec- utive of GSK, Walmsley has already sought to slash costs and increase spending on research and development to restock the British firm’s increasingly bare cupboard of new medicines.