GSK is in good health, so no need for new CEO to start looking for medicine

City types may want Emma Walmsley to sort out pharmaceutical firm’s structure but patience is the order of the day

“I have a strong preference for an external candidate,” said lauded fund manager Neil Woodford in March when Sir Andrew Witty announced his exit and GlaxoSmithKline launched its search for a new chief executive. The argument, one assumes, was that an outsider would be more likely to explode a corporate structure that Woodford complains is like four FTSE 100 companies bolted together.

The fund manager may therefore be miffed that Witty’s successor is an insider. Indeed, Emma Walmsley is boss of the consumer healthcare division, in theory the easiest unit to detach. Is GSK giving its critics the brush-off? Is it signalling that its collection of consumer brands, which runs from Horlicks to toothpaste to headache pills, is so prized that is must always be retained?

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