A show of support for GlaxoSmithKline's hedge fund fight

Several large shareholders have said that they will support GlaxoSmithKline in its battle with hedge fund Elliott Management.

Several large shareholders have signalled that they will support GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) in its battle with hedge fund Elliott Management, giving a “huge boost” to the pharma company’s “under-fire” management, say Alex Lawson and Emma Dunkley in The Mail on Sunday. Elliott is said to be pushing for a “dramatic” new plan that could see the FTSE100 firm “sold off in parts or swallowed up by a foreign rival”. However, BlackRock, GSK’s biggest investor, its fifth-largest shareholder Dodge & Cox,and insurer Royal London have reportedly urged firm’s chairman Jonathan Symonds to carry on with plans to overhaul its drugs pipeline and to spin off its consumer healthcare division next year.

The intervention will provide “some relief” for GSK’s chief executive Emma Walmsley (pictured), and there may be more good news to come, say Alex Ralph and Dominic Walsh in The Times. GSK’s Covid-19 vaccine, which it is developing in conjunction with Sanofi, has showed “positive results” in recent trials. GSK and Sanofi have “trailed others in the race to provide coronavirus jabs”, but may now have a product available by the end of the year.

This shows why GSK should hang on to its vaccines unit, says Lex in the Financial Times. The division is a “crown jewel” that “has increased revenues by 50% and nearly doubled profits in the past four years” thanks to the Shingrix shingles vaccine, while its respiratory syncytial virus vaccine looks promising. Research into the immune system is driving both the vaccines and pharma business. Splitting this up would be “the wrong prescription”.

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