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Glaxo's new chief most powerful woman in FTSE 100

By Holly Williams

Published 21/09/2016

Drugs giant GlaxoSmithKline has named Emma Walmsley as its new chief executive in a move that will make her the most powerful woman in the FTSE 100
Drugs giant GlaxoSmithKline has named Emma Walmsley as its new chief executive in a move that will make her the most powerful woman in the FTSE 100

Drugs giant GlaxoSmithKline has named Emma Walmsley as its new chief executive in a move that will make her the most powerful woman in the FTSE 100.

Ms Walmsley has been promoted from heading the firm's consumer healthcare arm to chief executive designate and will replace Sir Andrew Witty when he retires next March.

She will join a small band of women at the top of some of the UK's biggest listed firms, becoming the seventh FTSE 100 chief executive. There are also women at the helm of easyJet, Imperial Brands, Whitbread, Royal Mail, Kingfisher and Severn Trent.

But with Glaxo's mammoth £80bn market value dwarfing the other female-led FTSE 100 firms, she is likely to be the most powerful woman in the top tier. Glaxo chairman Sir Philip Hampton, who is also leading a Government-commissioned review into boosting the number of women in executive posts at top UK companies, said her appointment follows a "very thorough and rigorous" selection process.

"Emma is an outstanding leader with highly valuable experience of building and running major global businesses and a strong track record of delivering growth and driving performance in healthcare," he added.

But shares dipped nearly 1% after the announcement.

Jasper Lawler, market analyst at CMC Markets, said: "Some more vocal shareholders had wanted an outsider appointed to help push through a change in GSK's structure, and are selling shares in a show of disappointment."

Ms Walmsley has headed Glaxo's £6bn consumer healthcare arm since it was created in March last year as part of a joint venture with Novartis, and she has also been a member of Glaxo's corporate executive team since 2011.

She joined Glaxo in 2010 from L'Oreal, where she worked for 17 years in a number of marketing and general management roles.

"I am delighted and honoured to be appointed GSK's next chief executive," Ms Walmsley said.

"GSK is a company that leads both in science and in the way it does business."

Belfast Telegraph

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