Emma Walmsley, who has described herself as “extremely competitive”, will become the most powerful woman in British business, as she steps in as boss of the UK’s fifth largest company. She has run GSK’s Consumer Healthcare unit since 2010. But she lacks any previous experience in a chief executive role and has no background in pharmaceuticals. Consequently she will start on a pay package 25% lower than her predecessor Andrew Witty, who retires on Friday. GSK’s most recent annual report indicates her basic salary will be about £1m, in contrast with Mr Witty’s £1.1m. Her pension and potential for earning through bonuses and long-term performance targets are also lower. “Taking into account the fact that this is Emma’s first chief executive role, reductions have been made to all elements of her remuneration package in comparison to Sir Andrew’s,” the report said. “Constructive feedback” about remuneration from shareholders had also played a role, it said.
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