GlaxoSmithKline names ex-Tesco boss to lead consumer spinout

Drugmaker under pressure after two activist investors took stakes and challenged company strategy

GlaxoSmithKline appointed former Tesco chief executive and turnaround expert Dave Lewis to lead the spinoff and listing of the British drug giant's consumer health care division.

Mr Lewis, who is currently advising the UK government on the supply chain crisis, will become non-executive chairman of the as-yet-unnamed consumer healthcare company in January, GSK said in a statement Monday.

GSK said it remains on track to separately list the consumer arm, which owns brands including Panadol painkillers and Sensodyne toothpaste, in 2022.

Mr Lewis spent most of his career working at Unilever, one of the world's largest consumer groups, but made his name turning around Tesco, Britain's biggest supermarket chain, after it was left reeling from an accounting scandal.

In October, GSK announced the location of its new consumer health-care headquarters in Weybridge, England, amid growing scrutiny over its plans to split in two next year.

The drugmaker faces pressure after two activist investors took stakes and publicly disagreed with parts of its strategy. Elliott Investment Management, a notoriously aggressive activist fund, has pressed for GSK to be more open to a possible sale of the consumer division.

Elliott has also called for GSK to conduct a search for a new CEO for the pharma branch over concerns current chief Emma Walmsley lacks scientific expertise. The company has maintained that Ms Walmsley will helm the business. – Bloomberg