Covid boost offers GSK’s Walmsley Elliott relief

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The GlaxoSmithKline logo is seen in Singapore, March 21, 2018. REUTERS/Loriene Perera

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LONDON, July 28 (Reuters Breakingviews) - GlaxoSmithKline’s (GSK.L) Emma Walmsley is getting a little help in her battle with Elliott Advisors from Covid-19. Earlier this month the activist demanded that the UK-based group’s chief executive reapply for her job, saying she lacks the experience to run a large drugmaker. Yet GSK’s results on Wednesday showed sales rebounding quickly from last year, beating analyst forecasts by 7%.

The Covid-19 lift is unexpected. After all, GSK has so far failed to produce an effective vaccine on its own. But it made 258 million pounds in the three months ending June by offering its adjuvant technology, which makes vaccines more effective, to other groups. Those sales, along with a new antibody called sotrovimab, could boost GSK earnings per share by as much as 6% this year, it reckons. Compare that with peer AstraZeneca (AZN.L), which was quick to roll out a vaccine but has since been embroiled in a legal spat with the European Union. How long GSK’s Covid-19 boost lasts isn’t clear. But for someone in Walmsley’s position, any good news is welcome. (By Aimee Donnellan)

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Editing by Neil Unmack and Oliver Taslic

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