GSK CEO Emma Walmsley has rebuked concerns about her leadership, saying she is a “change agent” committed to transforming the UK pharmacist following the spin-off of its consumer health division. .
Under pressure from U.S. hedge fund Elliott Management, Walmsley presented its vision for the group Wednesday, earning £ 33 billion in sales by 2031 and exceeding the expiration of patents on key drugs for HIV toward end of the decade.
Over the next five years, the company expects to provide annual sales growth of more than 5 percent and an increase in adjusted operating profits of more than 10 percent, above consensus forecasts.
Walmsley told the Financial Times that he refused to be distracted by questions about his leadership.
“I am, with my team, absolutely focused on not being distracted. Certainly, our shareholders who support this strategy would definitely want us to be focused on execution, they don’t want us to be distracted from execution, and that’s the my job as a leader, ”he said.
Walmsley declined to comment if Elliott had seen the plan, saying GSK “always keeps an ear open” to recent and long-term shareholders. Elliott has taken a multi-billion pound stake in the company this year and won some support on her concerns that she may not be the right executive director for the pharmacist.
When asked if she should lead GSK after the spin-off, despite her background in consumer activity, she said: “I don’t want to spend time talking about all the things that aren’t. I am an agent of change. I am a business leader. And I’m very excited about the new plans for GSK. ”
The slimmed-down GlaxoSmithKline maintains a stake in its consumer health division that could sell to fuel investment in its drug pipeline. GSK will cut at least four-fifths of its 68 per cent stake in its consumer health joint venture with Pfizer next year on a list on the London Stock Exchange, but plans to keep as much as 20 per cent to monetize it in a “timely manner” by selling it on the open market.
Walmsley said the proposal was “very, very shareholder.”
The move is a compromise, as some shareholders were reluctant to buy back shares in an initial initial public offering, while others urged GSK to raise more money for mergers and acquisitions or internal drug development to strengthen its pipeline.
The company has warned that it will cut its dividend after next year’s spin-off to preserve funds for investment, as it loses the cash-generating consumer unit.
The group will pay an aggregate dividend from GSK and consumer healthcare expected to be 55p together next year, up by 30 per cent by 2020. The new pharmacist will pay a 45p dividend in 2023 and s is committed to a progressive dividend policy, based on a payout ratio of 40 to 60 percent.
Shares in GSK, which fell 6 per cent last year, rose 3 per cent to 1,439p at noon in London.
“I am very aware that GSK’s shares are underperforming for a long period of time,” Walmsley said. “The transformation that has taken place over the last four years creates a completely different platform for growth.”