GlaxoSmithKline CEO Emma Walmsley gets 'radical' about reshaping portfolio

  • GlaxoSmithKline CEO Emma Walmsley is feeling optimistic about her efforts to lead a turnaround of the British pharmaceutical company.
  • "I think we have tremendous opportunities to improve both operating performance and to get radical about reshaping our portfolio," Walmsley tells CNBC's Jim Cramer on "Squawk Alley."
  • In December, GSK announces its $5.1 billion acquisition of cancer drugmaker Tesaro and a joint venture with Pfizer that would split up GSK's two major businesses.

After announcing two major deals in December, GlaxoSmithKline CEO Emma Walmsley is optimistic about her efforts to transform Britain's largest drugmaker.

"I think we have tremendous opportunities to improve both operating performance and to get radical about reshaping our portfolio," Walmsley told CNBC's Jim Cramer on "Squawk Alley" on Monday.

Walmsley took the helm of GSK in April 2017. Since then, she has been pushing the pharma giant into the spotlight after it spent years hiding in the background. In December alone, the company announced the $5.1 billion acquisition of cancer drug specialist Tesaro and a joint venture with Pfizer that involves splitting up GSK's two major businesses.

The joint venture, which will focus on consumer health care, will make it the No. 1 or No. 2 player in 10 of the world's 15 biggest markets, Walmsley said. The extra cash flow will benefit GSK's other business, pharmaceuticals and vaccines, she said.

"We need to place some smart bets, take some risks, and I think when we do that we'll be bringing sustainable shareholder growth and more benefits for more patients around the world," she said.

Investors seem to be buying into Walmsley's strategy. Shares of the British company, which has a market value of $96.6 billion, finished 2018 up 7 percent.