Business Irish

Saturday 24 February 2018

Ex-Glaxo chief to replace McLaughlin as Elan head

Robert Ingram, former chief
executive of Glaxo Wellcome
Robert Ingram, former chief executive of Glaxo Wellcome

John Mulligan

A former chief executive of Glaxo Wellcome, Robert Ingram, is to become non-executive chairman at Irish drug firm Elan in January, the company has announced. He replaces Kyran McLaughlin, who indicated his intention earlier this year to step down from the role.

Activist investors including Denmark-based Ib Sonderby have been pressing Elan to appoint board members with strong industry experience. Mr Ingram has joined the Elan board with immediate effect and will assume the chairmanship at Elan's next board meeting, on January 26.

Speaking to the Irish Independent yesterday, Mr Sonderby said that he was "quite happy" that Elan had found a candidate with what he said was a "solid" background in the pharmaceutical industry.


He added that he hoped Mr Ingram would attract further talent to the Elan board, and that he would also still like to see one or more of the candidates he previously suggested for the board appointed to it.

In September, Mr Sonderby suggested a slate of four new board candidates to Elan. He said the industry veterans would "add value, restore oversight and provide industry expertise" to the company. None of the candidates have been elected to the board.

Mr McLaughlin announced back in April that he intended to step down from the Elan board.

He has been a board member since 1998 and its chairman since January 2005. He's also a non-executive board member of Ryanair.

At Elan's annual general meeting in May, around 28pc of votes cast by investors were against his re-election as chairman.

Mr McLaughlin was unable to say at the time what had caused the relatively high number of votes cast against his re-election. However, at least part of the reason is likely to have laid in the fact that some investors will automatically vote against the re-election of a director if they've been on a board for more than a specified number of years.

The undercurrent of dissent against the board is also likely to have impacted the result.

Mr McLaughlin said at the time that he was "surprised" by the outcome of the vote.

Mr Ingram, who was also a former vice-chairman, pharmaceuticals, at GlaxoSmithKline, said that he was looking forward to working with the Elan board. Mr Ingram has also worked as an adviser to the chief executive of GlaxoSmithKline, Andrew Witty, since January this year. He's also on the board of Allergan.

Irish Independent

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