Proud Leschly says he won't go quietly

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Shareholders in Smith-Kline Beecham, the drugs group, yesterday took their last chance to tease Jan Leschly over his gargantuan salary as the company said goodbye to the chief executive at its annual meeting. Mr Leschly declared his pride in his achievements - and his pleasure in his huge shareholding.

SB shareholders were less vociferous than the agitators at Barclays' meeting on Tuesday, who accused its chief executive of bringing shame on the bank.

Yesterday the investors put their hands together in tribute to Mr Leschly at the request of Sir Peter Walters, SB's chairman. However, one shareholder, David Sofia, said: "I wish Mr Leschly a very long life. He needs it to spend some of the money he managed so skillfully to extract from us. He is a very clever man. If he discovers a way to take it with him, perhaps he'd share it with us."

In justifying Mr Leschly's £100m salary and options package, Sir Peter said it was hard to attract people who would otherwise be lured to dot.com companies - presumably including the one Mr Leschly is expected to set up. Sir Richard Sykes, the Glaxo Wellcome chairman thought to have demanded Mr Leschly's resignation as a condition of the groups' proposed merger in 1998, has given Mr Leschly a website, www.janleschly.com, as a leaving present.

Mr Leschly threw down the gauntlet to his successor, JP Garnier. "I know I'm bragging, and I'm proud to. Since I became CEO shareholders have enjoyed a 318 per cent return. So, JP, you have something to do in the next five years. Good luck, buddy."

Mr Leschly has said that he intends to be a long-term shareholder in Glaxo SmithKline, which Dr Garnier will head. "I now look forward to sitting there with you shareholders and making sure the team do the job right."

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