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GlaxoSmithKline must not let down shareholders with a consumer arm IPO

·2-min read
<p>Coronavirus</p> (PA Wire)

Coronavirus

(PA Wire)

IT’s easy to mock GSK for boasting of being Britain’s vaccine champion but not being able to deliver in our hour of need.

It teamed up with Sanofi to provide an adjuvant (a sort of propellent) to the French firm’s Covid antigen, only to find that the French bit didn’t work.

Now they’re back on track with a launch hoped for by the fourth quarter and a booster jab to boot.

Before we snigger that everyone will have had a jab by then, remember that in most parts of the world, from India to Africa, barely anyone has.

The beauty of an adjuvant version is that a little bit of antigen goes a very long way, so it’s cheap to produce at scale.

Also, it may not have the side effects of AZ’s adenovirus jab, and GSK and Sanofi have the logistical capability to produce the thing in-house, without the contractor screw-ups that have dogged other versions.

Given that most of this stuff won’t be done for-profit, it won’t be heeded much by Elliott.

Today we learn that the activist is less active than some thought.

The barmier ideas bandied about speculating on Elliott’s plans (not by Elliott, it should be said) are no longer on the menu and we don’t know what is.

We probably won’t until June 23 when GSK updates investors about its prospects.

If Emma Walmsley doesn’t deliver, shareholders will want blood, and Elliott will be the sword.

In the meantime, she should pledge that, when she splits off the consumer arm, it will be a demerger, not an IPO where existing shareholders get diluted.

Having suffered so long, it would be an insult to make them pay to stay invested in a business they already own.

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