GSK appoints McNamara to lead standalone business

GSK appoints McNamara to lead standalone business
Brian McNamara has been chief executive officer of GlaxoSmithKline Consumer Healthcare since 2016

23 July 2021 - Deborah Wilkes

GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) has announced that Brian McNamara will remain chief executive officer of its Consumer Healthcare business following the planned separation in 2022.

The company said McNamara’s appointment as chief executive officer designate followed a six-month search and selection process supported by two global search firms.

Jonathan Symonds, GSK’s chairman, said McNamara was an “exceptional leader".

Through two global integrations, commented Symonds, McNamara had “successfully transformed GSK Consumer Healthcare into a category-leading business”. “His strong track record of success and deep experience of fast-moving consumer goods and consumer health – proven at Procter & Gamble (P&G), Novartis and GSK – means he is the right choice to unlock the potential of Consumer Healthcare as an independent company,” he added.

McNamara joined GSK Consumer Healthcare in 2015 as head of the Americas and Europe, and was promoted to chief executive officer in 2016 when Emma Walmsley became GSK’s chief executive officer.

He moved to GSK from Novartis as part of the formation of the consumer healthcare joint venture between the two companies in March 2015 (click here to read the News story). McNamara had spent more than a decade at Novartis, rising to the position of head of the pharmaceutical company’s OTC division.

Before joining Novartis in 2004, McNamara spent 16 years with P&G.

Preparing for new board

GSK said it was preparing an “appropriately qualified” and “independent” board for the standalone Consumer Healthcare company. A chair was expected to be appointed in the second half of 2021, noted the company, and would then lead the process of appointments to establish the new board.

“This new board,” commented GSK, “will include the appropriate mix of skills, experience and continuity, relevant to Consumer Healthcare, to represent and maximise the value of this new business for shareholders.”

Separation plans unveiled

GSK confirmed plans to demerge its Consumer Healthcare business at an investor update in June 2021 (click here to read the News story).

Subject to the approval of shareholders, the separation of Consumer Healthcare will take the form of a demerger in mid 2022 of “at least 80%” of GSK’s 68% ownership in the Consumer Healthcare business to GSK shareholders. The new standalone Consumer Healthcare business is expected to gain a premium listing on the London Stock Exchange.

GSK said the standalone business – which generated 2020 sales of GBP9.51 billion (USD13.1 billion) excluding brands divested and under review – would be a world leader in consumer healthcare. It will have 20 brands each with sales in excess of GBP100 million.

Soon after the investor update, activist investor Elliott Investment Management urged GSK to consider selling its Consumer Healthcare business rather than going ahead with the proposed separation (click here to read the News story).

Responding to Elliott, GSK’s board said it was prepared to “evaluate any alternative options for Consumer Healthcare that may arise” (click here to read the News story).

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