Amid calls for breakup, Glaxo reportedly begins search for successor to CEO Witty
- GlaxoSmithKline has reportedly begun its search for a successor to current CEO Andrew Witty, hiring the recruiting firm Egon Zehnder, according to The Telegraph.
- First reported by the Sunday Times, such a transition likely would not occur before 2017.
- Prominent UK investor Neil Woodford has repeatedly called for Glaxo to be split four ways, with the HIV, consumer health, and dermatology units spun off into separate companies.
In January, Witty indicated Glaxo's consumer health division could conceivably be spun off sometime in the future but pushed back against divesting other units like its vaccines division. The consumer health unit has struggled of late, only reaching profitably recently. Witty has asked for patience in building up profit margins of the unit, currently worth around $14 billion.
Speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland earlier this year, Witty said: "[The consumer health unit] is going to be big enough to be conceptually thought about on its own. Whether or not we ever do that, there are 100 different permutations, but for the first time that could be conceptually possible."
Glaxo Chairman Philip Hampton is considering both internal and external candidates for the post. The company has apparently faced internal pressure from activist shareholders, with minority shareholder Och-Ziff Capital Management advocating for an external candidate, according to the Sunday Times.
Witty was appointed CEO in 2008, and is a 31 year veteran of the company.
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