GSK exec to head rival drugmaker

Where, oh where could Chris Viehbacher (photo) be going? Place your bets now, folks, because the Financial Times reports that Viehbacher is leaving GlaxoSmithKline, where he heads up North American operations, to take the reins of another pharmaceutical group.

Complicating factor: According to GSK's 2007 proxy, Viehbacher has a 12-month noncompete clause in his contract with the company. But in negotiating his exit, Glaxo has been focusing on preventing a follow-the-leader exodus, the FT reports. The company may let Viehbacher go to a competitor, but it doesn't want him to recruit anybody to join his new team.

As you know, Viehbacher was one of three execs in a horse race to take the CEO slot when Jean-Pierre Garnier retired. Andrew Witty (photo), of course, won that race and took over this spring. David Stout (photo), the other candidate, left the company to go into semi-retirement, but Viehbacher stuck around with a seat on the board and a $5 million retention package. Now he's quit, too, leaving Witty with a depleted slate of experienced GSK executives.

- read the Financial Times article

Update:
GSK's Viehbacher picked as Sanofi CEO

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