Small but formidable activist investor Bluebell takes stake in GlaxoSmithKline and asks CEO Walmsley to reapply for job: FT


First, leading investor Elliott Management urged GlaxoSmithKline to take the necessary steps to turn around its declining fortunes. Now, a much smaller but growing activist investor, Bluebell Capital Partners, has taken over the tag team game, putting pressure on struggling GSK CEO Emma Walmsley.

In a letter to the company’s board of directors, Bluebell asked GSK to force Walmsley to reapply for his position, initiate a search for new leaders and strengthen the scientific expertise of the board, according to a report from Financial Times.

“The new GSK deserves the right leadership, capable of reviewing and possibly adjusting the strategy defined in June, ensuring high quality execution and restoring trust with employees, customers, suppliers and shareholders”, wrote Guiseppe Bivona and Marco Taricco, investment directors at Bluebell. .

If Walmsley were to be reappointed by a board of directors with greater scientific experience, Bluebell explained in the letter, then she would have “renewed credibility both internally and externally.”

RELATED: Elliott Fires Opening Salute at GlaxoSmithKline, Calling for New Management to Correct “Serious Underperformance

The London-based hedge fund, launched less than two years ago by a group of former Italian investment bankers, has taken a relatively modest £ 10million ($ 11.7million) stake in GSK. But Bluebell turned out formidable earlier this year when it convinced shareholders to oust the CEO of Danone, the Paris-based food giant known in America as yogurt maker Dannon.

While GSK has suffered various recent R&D setbacks, including an inability to develop a vaccine against COVID-19, the company’s share price performance has fallen relative to its British rival AstraZeneca, and leadership de Walmsley has been called into question.

GSK’s plan to split off its consumer healthcare business, which will take effect next year, is widely seen as a positive step in the company’s transformation. But in its letter to the board, Bluebell called for a more “proactive” approach and an “alternative transaction”.

“We believe the leadership position and growth prospects in consumer health should attract the interest of selected strategic buyers and potentially private equity players,” Bluebell wrote.

RELATED: Tensions Rise At GlaxoSmithKline As Activist Investor Elliott Plots To Remove CEO Walmsley, Vaccine Division: FT

When Elliott took a large stake in GSK in April, he laid out an action plan for the drugmaker to save something from his “years of under-management,” Elliott said in an open letter to the board. administration. The hedge fund has called for a board overhaul and a review of the company’s leadership.

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