GlaxoSmithKline CEO: Chin up, investors. Dividend's safe, and Novartis deal awaits

GSK CEO Andrew Witty

GlaxoSmithKline's ($GSK) shareholders may be expecting less-than-stellar sales next year as generics take their toll on respiratory behemoth Advair. But they still have plenty to look forward to, CEO Andrew Witty reminded them on Thursday.

For starters, there's the multibillion-dollar asset swap with Novartis ($NVS) that the companies announced in April. On Thursday, the British pharma's investors approved the deal--which will send GSK's oncology assets over to Switzerland and bring most of Novartis' vaccines business over in return, as well as form a joint venture in consumer health--by an "overwhelming majority," according to Reuters.

As Glaxo said in April, the transaction will up its annual revenue by £1.3 billion. And as Witty reiterated on Thursday, after next year's slated deal close, the company will return £4 billion to shareholders, Bloomberg reports.

And despite rumors that the pharma giant would cut its dividend on its top-line struggles, Witty confirmed his company plans to maintain 2014's dividend of 80 pence a share next year, remarking that investors shouldn't be worried.

But considering Glaxo's bleak sales picture as of late, it's no surprise that some of them found pause for concern. Top product Advair plunged 25% last quarter, fueling a 12% pharmaceutical sales slide. And that's only set to continue as copycats eat away at the one-time $8-billion-a-year seller; in preparation, the drugmaker this year initiated a $1.6 billion restructuring, which most recently claimed at least 900 sales and R&D jobs focused in Research Triangle Park, NC.

- get more from Reuters
- see Bloomberg's take

Special Reports: The top 10 pharma companies by 2013 revenue - GlaxoSmithKline | The 10 best-selling drugs of 2013 - Advair/Seretide | Pharma's top 10 M&A deals of H1 2014 - GlaxoSmithKline Oncology/Novartis Vaccines (excluding flu)