Hedge fund boss Gordon Singer dramatically questioned the leadership of GlaxoSmithKline chief executive Emma Walmsley at a virtual investor meeting.
Singer, head of Elliott Investment Management’s London office, demanded an answer as to why the drug company’s share price had slumped below pre-Covid levels.
Around 50 top investors were present at the private virtual event, which was intended to reassure investors on progress of plans to divide the group.
A source told the Mail on Sunday that Singer’s unexpected appearance would have been a deliberate move by Elliott to send a message to GSK bosses.
“He wants them to know he’s there,” they said.
“He doesn’t do anything by accident. Their activist business by definition is a bit more theatrical because what they’re trying to do is move the share price.
“I think the fundamental reason he’s [intervened like this] is to put pressure on the chief executive, who’s not agreeing with him.”
The hedge fund has a reputation for taking a no prisoners approach to forcing shakeups. Elliot took a multi-billion pound stake in GSK earlier this year and called for a sale of its consumer business this summer, rather than a spin-off.
The fund also called for a process to select the next boss of ‘New GSK’, the remaining biopharma arm. However, GSK said Walmsley would stay on as chief executive.
One investor on the call told the Mail on Sunday that Singer wanted to know what “confidence” GSK chairman Sir Jonathan Symonds and senior independent director Vindi Banga had in Walmsley.
“Elliott wants a process to prove Emma is up to the job,” they added.