Top investor fires warning shot at GSK boss Walmsley as she prepares to fend off Wall Street raiders: The jury is not yet informed about her future, explains Aviva
Glaxosmithkline boss Emma Walmsley has been notified by a leading investor as she prepares to fend off Wall Street raiders.
The pension and investment giant Aviva warned that the “jury is still not informed about the future of the chairman of the board”.
The unusually frank comments put further pressure on Walmsley, 51, at a time when GSK is being encircled by US activist Elliott Management.
Pressure: In the event of a shock intervention, the pension and investment giant Aviva warned that the jury had not yet decided on the future of Emma Walmsley, CEO of Glaxosmithkline
Elliott – notorious for his aggressive tactics – has reportedly built up a multi-billion pound stake in the drug giant, sparking feverish speculation about his intentions as well as Walmsley’s efforts to show that their turnaround efforts are bearing fruit.
According to observers, Elliott could seek to oust the CEO or accelerate the separation of GSK’s consumer and biopharmaceutical businesses.
Walmsley has insisted that she is the right person to lead GSK after the split, pointing to “tremendous” strides made during her tenure.
But even though top investors like Blackrock, Dodge & Cox and Royal London are said to be privately sponsoring them, Aviva broke cover yesterday and was the first to criticize them.
GSK announced it was separating its consumer business in 2018 after signing a £ 10 billion joint venture agreement with rival Pfizer
David Cumming, Aviva’s chief investment officer, claimed that GSK’s potential is “not being realized” and that this is reflected in its share price – a 15 percent decline since Walmsley took command in 2017.
“That’s why Elliott was allowed to appear on the website [share] register, ”he told BBC Radio 4.
‘It left a void that they can exploit. Often the easiest catalyst to enforce change is to change the CEO, so that the jury is still not informed about their future.
“She needs to show shareholders a more positive view of her leadership if Elliott is to be kept in check.”
GSK announced the split of its consumer business in 2018 after signing a £ 10 billion joint venture agreement with rival Pfizer.
David Cumming, Aviva’s chief investment officer, claimed that GSK’s potential is “not being realized” and that this is reflected in its share price
The division should be completed in mid-2022 and leave the “New GSK”, which consists only of the pharmaceutical and vaccine business.
However, analysts have questioned whether the four-year process could be accelerated now as Elliott – who has a reputation for campaigning aggressively for change in large companies – has stepped in.
On a ray of light yesterday, GSK and Sanofi of France said their potential Covid-19 vaccine – which was delayed by a mishap – provoked strong immune responses in pre-trials in all adult age groups, adding to optimism that the shot was turning out to be the fight the pandemic could join years.
A GSK spokesperson said yesterday evening, “Almost four years ago we put a new strategy in place to address historic challenges, transform the company and create long-term value for shareholders.
This strategy includes improving research and development productivity, improving business performance and separating into two new companies in the next year. ‘