Embattled GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) chief executive Emma Walmsley and the company’s chairman are under attack from activist investors.
GSK’s chairman Sir Jonathan Symonds has responded to a scathing letter written by Bluebell Capital Partners, the activist shareholders famous for toppling the Danone chief executive, which called for a change in company leadership The Times first reported.
Symonds said he was “disappointed” by Bluebell’s letter which included an account of last week’s Investor Forum, called to discuss the separation of GSK’s consumer healthcare division which is a key part of Walmsley’s strategy for turning the company’s finances around.
In Bluebell’s Monday letter they called for a “more radical change agenda” and accusing Symonds of lacking a “precise understanding of the causes of the prolonged and severe underperformance of GSK share price”.
The pharmaceuticals giant issued a statement on Tuesday and said the company was “disappointed that Bluebell have deliberately sought to misrepresent the meeting and to distort what was said in order to advance their own narrow agenda”.
Bluebell wrote again to GSK yesterday, calling its account of events “simply untrue” and repeating demands for a “radical reshuffle” of the board.
It comes as GSK faces pressure from both Bluebell and Elliot Advisors, which urged the company to name new board directors and launch a review of Walmsley’s leadership in July.
Dame Emma Walmsley was appointed at the helm of GSK in April 2017, since which time share price has declined by 15.7 per cent to stand at £13.97.
In June, Walmsley enraged share holders with the announcement that dividends would be cut from the current payout of 80p per share to 55p per share next year under GSK’s new ten year strategy.