GSK’s new CEO Walmsley paid 25% less than predecessor Witty

GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) has confirmed rumours that its incoming CEO Emma Walmsley will be paid less than her predecessor, Sir Andrew Witty.

Investors had been pressuring GSK’s remuneration panel to cut her pay to under the £1 million-a-year figure floated by directors, according to reports.

The investors had been making their case on the basis that Walmsley is less experienced in pharma than Witty, having headed the company’s consumer division before her appointment, following a career at cosmetics firm L’Oreal.

But the company has not bowed to that pressure and will pay Walmsley a base salary of £1,003,000, an improvement on the £850,000 she has been paid since getting the nod as the company’s CEO-designate in September.

Walmsley will become big pharma’s first ever female CEO when she takes over from Witty at the end of this month.

Her pay package will be less than the £1.1 million Witty earned last year. She will also get lower pension contributions, as well as reduced bonus and long-term incentives, resulting in a total reduction in pay of 25% compared with Witty.

Although her total potential pay of £8.8 million may seem generous by most people’s standards, it pales in comparison with some of the top-earning US pharma CEOs.

Regeneron’s CEO Leonard Schleifer is thought to be the best paid, according to 2015 figures, with annual compensation of $47.4 million.

In that year Vertex’s CEO Jeffrey Leiden got $28 million, while Celgene’s Bob Hugin, now executive chairman, got $22.4 million.

In big pharma, Johnson & Johnson’s Alex Gorsky got $21.1 million, while Merck & Co’s Kenneth Frazier got $19.9 million.

Walmsley will take over at a crucial time for GSK – US regulators could approve a generic version of its ageing blockbuster respiratory drug, Advair (salmeterol+fluticasone), this month.

The company is trying to rebuild its respiratory franchise, but has not come up with a drug that matches the sales generated by Advair, also known as Seretide, so far.



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