GlaxoSmithKline commits £400m to drug research site as boss fight to stop US hedge fund Elliott
GlaxoSmithKline boss Emma Walmsley has made the boldest move ever in her fight to save a US hedge fund and stay at her job.
Less than a month after announcing plans to split in two, the UK’s Drugs Group has unveiled a project to build one of Europe’s largest biotechnology complexes in Stevenage.
It is hoped that the £400 million project will go some way to silence New York-based investor Elliott, who has questioned whether Walmsley is the right person to lead the company.
US hedge fund Elliott questions whether Emma Walmsley (pictured) is the right person to head GlaxoSmithKline
The project will create 5,000 jobs in the UK over the next five years and the campus will be next to GSK’s existing site.
The company expects to select a development partner later this year and work will begin in 2022.
GSK Senior Vice President Tony Wood said: ‘Our goal is to see Stevenage emerge as a top destination for medical and scientific research by the end of the decade.’
The project is a big boost for the city, which is also home to the Airbus Space Technology Center.
Walmsley has faced increasing pressure from Elliot. Two weeks ago the ruthless money manager questioned whether the 52-year-old should remain in charge as GSK plan to split in two next year.
Walmsley wants to stay there after the breakup and run a drug business, but Elliot says she lacks experience or skills.
The hedge fund is also unhappy that it took GSK two years to plan the split and that the uncertainty has led to the stock price crashing.
But for now GSK’s chairman and the company’s top investors have backed Walmsley, with Royal London, M&G and Jupiter Asset Management all throwing their weight behind him.
It is understood that top shareholders do not want Walmsley to allow Elliott to deviate the company from its current strategy.
But GSK has received criticism for failing to develop a coronavirus jab of its own during the pandemic.