GlaxoSmithKline appoints RBS's Hampton as next chairman

Thu Sep 25, 2014 6:38am EDT
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By Ben Hirschler

LONDON (Reuters) - Drugmaker GlaxoSmithKline confirmed on Thursday it had chosen Philip Hampton, who currently chairs Royal Bank of Scotland, as its next chairman.

Hampton will take the helm at Britain's top pharmaceuticals group at a testing time. GSK was hit last week by a record $489 million fine in China for bribing doctors and has warned on profits in 2014 due to weak sales of its core respiratory drugs.

He will join the board in January, become deputy chairman on April 1 and chairman with effect from Sept. 1, 2015 - or earlier if released from other commitments.

The long handover reflects the difficulty of replacing Hampton at RBS ahead of next May's UK general election, given the fact the bank is 80-percent state-owned and the government will take a keen interest in the appointment.

Reuters reported on Monday that GSK was under pressure to make changes, including a possible early replacement of the current chairman, Chris Gent, as a result of its problems which have undermined investor confidence.

A person close to the process had previously said that Hampton was set to be named as GSK's chairman this week.

Several investors see the board change at GSK as overdue -- Gent has been in the job for nine years -- and analysts at Goldman Sachs believe a new chairman could "kick-start" change.

Gent, best-known for leading mobile phone company Vodafone during a period of rapid growth, was due to retire by the end of 2015 and the drugmaker said it had been planning for his succession over the last two years.   Continued...

Chairman of Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) Philip Hampton speaks at the annual Confederation of British Industry (CBI) conference in central London, November 4, 2013. REUTERS/Olivia Harris