More exec turnover at GSK: Vax chief Slaoui to follow CEO Witty out the door next year

Moncef Slaoui

GlaxoSmithKline CEO Andrew Witty isn’t the only member of his company’s top brass who'll be packing his bags in 2017.

Tuesday, the British pharma giant announced that its vaccines chairman, Moncef Slaoui, would be hitting the road as well, retiring on June 30. He’ll relinquish his board seat sooner, though--on March 31--and between then and his goodbye date, he’ll serve as an adviser to Glaxo and its board.

The departure of Slaoui--who previously served as GSK’s R&D chief--will mark the end of a nearly 30 year run at the company, which he joined in 1988. He’s held a spot at the directors’ table since 2006, Glaxo said.

Slaoui “has been personally involved in the discovery and development of some of our most innovative vaccines and spearheaded the overhaul of GSK’s pharmaceutical R&D. GSK has been fortunate to benefit from Moncef’s considerable scientific and technical experience over many years and I’m pleased that during his remaining time, he will continue to provide this valuable expertise to the company,” Chairman Philip Hampton said in a statement.

Slaoui’s final exit will come just after Witty's, who is set to leave next March. The skipper announced three months ago--amid calls from investors for a large-scale, companywide breakup--that he’d be wrapping up his stint at the helm, which began in 2008.

Like Witty, who has said time and again that he doesn’t think splitting apart is a good idea right now, Slaoui isn’t a huge fan of the idea, either--at least where vaccines are concerned. As he told FiercePharma in a January interview, separating the vaccines business--which shares “enormous synergies” with the company’s pharma business--“I think would equate to a very, very significant loss of opportunity and a much, much higher cost structure.”

And while Witty has said the board is unified around the strategy Glaxo has been pursuing--which involves upping volume in the traditionally low-margin consumer health and vaccines businesses, in place of the high-cost pharma products that can trigger payer pushback--the breakup issue will be one for the next head honcho to tackle. Whomever succeeds him will “have it up to them individually to set their own priorities,” Witty said on the company’s Q1 earnings call.

Meanwhile, both Witty and Slaoui are hoping they can leave on a high note--and if they can turn Q1’s results into a trend, they will. Glaxo’s £6.23 billion revenue haul topped analyst expectations by more than £200 million, thanks in part to an £882 million performance from the vaccines unit.

“A rebound has started, if measured from the rather deep hole that had been dug,” Bernstein analyst Tim Anderson wrote in a note at the time.

- read Glaxo's release

Special Report: The top 15 pharma companies by 2014 revenue - GlaxoSmithKline

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