GlaxoSmithKline CEO Andrew Witty to retire next year

GlaxoSmithKline announced Thursday that CEO Andrew Witty intends to retire from the company on March 31 next year having served as chief executive since 2008. The drugmaker indicated that its board will now conduct a formal search for a successor, with both internal and external candidates to be considered for the role.

Commenting on his decision, Witty remarked "by next year, I will have been CEO for nearly 10 years and I believe this will be the right time for a new leader to take over." Witty added "in making this decision it has been important to me that the board have the time to conduct a full and proper process and that we sustain the momentum of our current business performance."

Last month, sources suggested that GlaxoSmithKline chairman Philip Hampton had initiated the formal process of seeking a successor to Witty amid criticism from some investors over the drugmaker's flagging sales and profits. At the time, possible internal candidates were said to include Abbas Hussain, head of the company's pharmaceuticals business, Emma Walmsley, who leads the consumer healthcare unit, and chief financial officer Simon Dingemans. Meanwhile, external candidates are said to include David Epstein, head of Novartis' pharmaceuticals division.

For related analysis, see The First Take Podcast: Witty's departure from GlaxoSmithKline confirmed - what's his legacy?.

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