GlaxoSmithKline chief Emma Walmsley nets $6.8M in pay in her first year at the helm

Emma Walmsley
GSK CEO Emma Walmsley's base salary will top £1 million this year. (GSK)

Investors who pressed GlaxoSmithKline to slash new CEO Emma Walmsley’s pay package before she took the helm probably won’t much like her overall compensation figure for 2017.

Walmsley racked up £4.9 million ($6.8 million) for the year, according to Glaxo's 2017 annual report. That figure includes a base salary of £965,000, employee and travel benefits of £266,000, and pension contributions of £195,000. Her performance-related pay amounted to £3.46 million, including a cash bonus of £1.54 million.

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Outgoing chief Andrew Witty passed Walmsley the baton at the end of March, and Walmsley made a splash in her first nine months in the top seat, replacing 50 top managers—or 40% of the company’s top management team—in an effort to breathe some new life into the company. Many of those hires were executives she poached from some of the top companies around the globe, including Google, Walmart and pharma rivals such as Novartis. 

Before transitioning from consumer health head to CEO, though, some GSK shareholders criticized her base salary, claiming it was too close to the amount paid to the more experienced Witty.

Of course, despite earning nearly £5 million, Walmsley still checks in far below many of her U.S.-based counterparts on the list of pharma’s highest-paid CEOs. Allergan skipper Brent Saunders, for one, took home $32.8 million for a 2017 that saw his company’s share prices sag.

RELATED: GSK sticks with Walmsley's salary in the face of investor griping, but she'll still net less than Witty

For 2018, Walmsley’s base salary will inch past the £1 million mark to £1.03 million thanks to a 2.5% increase—a bump-up in line with the average across the wider GSK workforce, the company noted.

But she’ll have plenty of work to do if she wants to max out her performance targets. The company expects to face “ongoing pressures” in its respiratory business, which could finally see competition to blockbuster Advair this year. And competing in HIV against archrival Gilead will be no walk in the park, either, despite last year’s big Juluca approval, the pharma giant warned late last year.