SIR Christopher Gent, the chairman of GlaxoSmithKline and one of the UK’s most respected businessmen, is to step down from the board of the pharmaceuticals giant.
A person familiar with the situation said the company had already begun the search for a successor to Sir Christopher, who has chaired the firm since January 2005. Glaxo declined to comment, but it is understood he is unlikely to leave for another two to three years.
The 64-year old’s impressive career includes five years as chief executive of Vodafone, where he was credited with building the firm into the world’s largest mobile phone business. In 2000, he oversaw the largest overseas acquisition by a UK company when Vodafone successfully completed a £112bn hostile takeover of rival Mannesmann of Germany.
At Glaxo he led the search for a replacement to Jean-Pierre Garnier, the former chief executive, appointing Sir Andrew Witty as his successor in 2008.