Glaxo chairman backs boss Emma Walmsley in clash with vulture fund

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Glaxosmithkline chairman backs boss Emma Walmsley in clash with Wall Street vulture fund

Support: Glaxosmithkline chief exec Emma Walmsley (pictured)

Support: Glaxosmithkline chief exec Emma Walmsley (pictured)

Glaxosmithkline boss Emma Walmsley has been backed by the drug maker’s chairman amid fears Wall Street activists could push for her to be ousted.

Jonathan Symonds told shareholders at the annual general meeting to keep the faith and claimed a much-needed overhaul was happening under Walmsley, adding: ‘We are confident that we have the right strategy and the right team.’

His comments come as Glaxo braces for an assault by Elliott Management, the feared US fund which is said to have taken a multi-billion pound stake.

The move has raised questions about Walmsley’s strategy as chief executive – shares are down 19 per cent since she took over – with analysts and investors suggesting Elliott could seek to remove her or push for radical changes. 

Some speculate it could push for cuts to research spending, a speedier separation of the firm’s consumer business or a spin-off of the vaccines division.

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