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GSK names Emma Walmsley as next CEO

Firm's consumer healthcare head will succeed Sir Andrew Witty in March 2017
GSK Emma Walmsley

Speculation as to who will succeed Sir Andrew Witty as chief executive of GlaxoSmithKline is at an end, with consumer healthcare head Emma Walmsley due to step into the role next year.

Walmsley will take over from Sir Andrew following his retirement at the end of March, and will join the board of directors at the start of 2017. At a stroke she will top the rankings among the handful of female CEOs in the FTSE 100.

The CEO-in-waiting joined GSK from personal care giant L'Oreal in 2010 and was formerly head of the pharma group's consumer healthcare unit, created after GSK's three-part deal with Novartis which also saw the two companies swap vaccine and oncology assets.

The appointment has immediately spurred suggestions that GSK intends to retain its current diversified structure and not split off its consumer healthcare business, something that has been pushed for by investors including investment fund manager Neil Woodford.

GSK has been looking for a new CEO since Sir Andrew announced his retirement plans in March, ending months of speculation about his role at the company in the wake of declining sales of some products, slow growth for new launches and a corruption scandal in China.

GSK's chairman Sir Philip Hampton immediately kicked off a formal search for a successor. At the time he said GSK's board would consider both internal and external candidates for the role, while Woodford was among shareholders pushing for an outsider to be brought into the fold.

Walmsley is "an outstanding leader with highly valuable experience of building and running major global businesses and a strong track record of delivering growth and driving performance in healthcare," said Sir Philip, adding that her appointment came after "a very thorough and rigorous global selection process".

GSK's chairman is currently co-leading a government initiative to try to increase the number of women leaders in UK industry along with Dame Helen Alexander, chair of UBM. The aim is to have female board representation of at least 33% by 2020, across the FTSE 350.

Article by
Phil Taylor

20th September 2016

From: Sales

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