Neil Woodford says pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline has been a disappointing investment as he slams chief executive Andrew Witty and pushes for a business shake-up.
“Glaxo has been a very disappointing investment for me for a very long time and the hopes that I had for that business have really been dashed over the years,” says the star fund manager, speaking on a panel interview at the AJ Bell Investival conference.
He adds: “I think the corporate structure is wrong, I think the business needs to focus on one or two of the businesses that it has in its portfolio at the moment.”
Woodford has previously urged GSK to split up the business to reassure shareholders on the firm’s profitability.
Woodford says: “I think the company should focus on what it ought to do well, which is basically pharmaceuticals and vaccines and I think it should spin or sell its consumer healthcare business and that is what I’ve been saying for a long time.”
Since 2008, GSK, led by its new chief executive Andrew Witty, has been focusing on vaccines and consumer products rather than on highly priced prescription drugs, believing the strategy would bring more returns.
Woodford says: “You know as much as I do that running a FTSE 100 company is a very challenging business. In essence, Andrew Witty is about running four FTSE 100 companies and he’s not doing a very good job in my view.”
The manager is pushing GSK to explore a formal separation of the HIV business ViiV, the company consumer healthcare division, and Stiefel, its dermatology division, from the firm’s core medicines and vaccines unit.
However, despite his disappointment, Woodford says he retained GSK in his portfolio as he believes there is “a huge unlocked value in the business”, and has also recently increased his allocation in the company.
As of the end of September, the £7.07bn CF Woodford Equity Income fund held 6.12 per cent of the fund in GSK.