Leadership

First female Big Pharma CEO will be paid 25 percent less than her male predecessor

Emma Walmsley, GSK
Source: GSK
Emma Walmsley, GSK

Incoming GlaxoSmithKline Chief Executive Emma Walmsley, the first woman to lead a top global drugmaker, will get a pay package worth a quarter less than her predecessor, following a company rethink on remuneration.

Walmsley, who takes over next month, will be paid a base salary of 1,003,000 pounds ($1.23 million), or 10 percent less than outgoing CEO Andrew Witty.

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She will also receive significantly lower pension contributions, as well as reduced bonus and long-term incentive opportunities, resulting in a total reduction in her package of about 25 percent, GSK said in its annual report.

"Taking into account the fact that this is Emma's first CEO role, reductions have been made to all elements of her remuneration package in comparison to Sir Andrew's current arrangements," the report stated.

Sir Andrew Witty
CNBC | Getty Images
Sir Andrew Witty

The decision to pay her less comes at a time of increased focus on executive pay in Britain. The drugmaker said it had been consulting with shareholders for several months and modified its policy as a result of their feedback.

"We are acutely aware of the need for a balanced and responsible approach to remuneration," a spokesman said.

Walmsley, 47, takes over Britain's biggest drugmaker at a challenging time and some investors have questioned her lack of direct experience in pharmaceuticals, since she has worked in GSK's consumer healthcare division since 2010.

Just four days before Walmsley moves into the top job on April 1, U.S. regulators could approve the first substitutable generic version of GSK's inhaled lung drug Advair, which has raked in more than a $1 billion in sales every year since 2001. ($1 = 0.8185 pounds)

This article originally appeared on Reuters.