Elliott is backing away from a threatened activist attack on GlaxoSmithKline, giving CEO Emma Walmsley some breathing room — report
GlaxoSmithKline chief Emma Walmsley appears to have survived the first big challenge to her tenure at the top of the pharma giant.
The Times of London is reporting that Elliott Management won’t pursue a threatened attack on GSK, pulling back from an assault that could have leveraged dissatisfaction with the company’s lackluster performance into a break up and sale.
The activists at Elliott have a long track record in the business of pushing reorganizations in biopharma that can trigger handsome returns for investors. And that’s what people were expecting since word got out that Elliott had taken a multibillion-dollar stake in GSK.
But inside the UK, any move to threaten either GSK or AstraZeneca takes on political hues unknown in the US. These 2 pharma giants are considered the big cornerstones of the country’s biopharma industry, and are extended considerable protection as a result — something AstraZeneca enjoyed when then-Pfizer CEO Ian Read made an unsuccessful run at buying the company.
Even though Elliott may be backing off, Walmsley still is under considerable pressure to do something more impressive in late-stage R&D and in the commercial wing. She has billed 2021 as the key breakout year for R&D, but that has yet to materialize in any way that can impress analysts.