Pharma boss to slash dividend by 30% as she sets out plans for ‘New GSK’

Pharma boss to slash dividend by 30% as she sets out plans for ‘New GSK’
The drug giant will demerge from its consumer healthcare business next year.

The boss of drug giant GSK has promised to grow both sales and profits and said she is prepared to lead the business following a planned split next year.

Emma Walmsley said the business expects sales to grow by around 5% and adjusted operating profit by 10% over the next half-decade.

Yet the business also set out plans for a 30% dip in its dividend.

It came as she detailed her plans for the “New GSK”, after the business jettisons its consumer healthcare division in the middle of next year.

Ms Walmsley said New GSK will keep a 20% stake in the consumer healthcare business but will give the rest to shareholders.

The unit will be listed on the London Stock Exchange as a separate business, and New GSK will sell off its remaining stake over time.

Ahead of an update to investors later in on Wednesday, Ms Walmsley said she is confident she can deliver the growth targets for the company.

Let me tell you what I am… I am a change agent. I am a business leader, and I am very excited about the new plans for a New GSK that we’re laying out today

Emma Walmsley, GSK

She said the company could “positively impact the health” of more than 2.5 billion people in the next decade.

Ms Walmsley’s pitch to investors will be vital for the future of the business, and will be closely followed by Elliott Management, the US activist investor which took a multibillion-pound stake in GSK earlier this year.

Amid the split, Ms Walmsley is facing questions over whether she is the best person to run New GSK.

A veteran of L’Oreal, the chief executive rose up the ranks of GSK over the last decade, coming through its consumer healthcare division

But this division will no longer be part of the business that Ms Walmsley is set to lead.

However, she batted back claims that she will not be best placed to lead the business, and said she is surrounded by a strong team of experts.

“I’m not going to spend time talking about all the things I’m not,” she said.

“Let me tell you what I am… I am a change agent. I am a business leader, and I am very excited about the new plans for a New GSK that we’re laying out today.”

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