GSK hunts for new chairman as Gent preps for departure

Christopher Gent--image courtesy of GSK

GlaxoSmithKline chairman Christopher Gent is preparing to exit stage left. But he's not packing his bags just yet. The Sunday Times reports that GSK has only just hired a recruiting firm to search out Gent's replacement.

In fact, the Times says Gent may not leave the building till the company's 2014 shareholders' meeting. Glaxo ($GSK) wouldn't comment, but the newspaper's sources said the exact timing of Gent's departure will depend on when his replacement can step in.

Gent has held the chairman's role at Glaxo since 2005, and, as such, was in charge when current CEO Andrew Witty won his post. In fact, he led the search. So, he's undoubtedly a Witty ally. Presumably, his successor will be, too, if he and Witty have anything to say about it--and they do.

Gent's tenure has been a tumultuous time for Glaxo, and not just because of changes at the top. Along with the rest of the industry, GSK has been cutting jobs, consolidating facilities, and inking deals in far-flung locations, all to prepare for--and cope with--the patent cliff. Now, the company is past the worst of its patent losses, and Witty promises a return to growth. Perhaps it's that promise of smoother sailing ahead that has inspired Gent to take his bow.

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