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SmithKline chief profits by pounds 1.8m

Jan Leschly, chief executive of SmithKline Beecham, is on course for another pay packet of around pounds 1.8m this year after the drugs group unveiled profits of pounds 1.55bn yesterday. Stripping out exceptional gains of pounds 262m last time, the pre-tax figure represented growth of 14 per cent over 1995.

Company sources said this put him in line for the sort of bonus he picked up in 1995, when he was awarded pounds 928,000 on top of fees, salary and other benefits of pounds 876,000. Mr Leschly attracted controversy two years ago when he was paid pounds 2.4m, including around pounds 800,000 for "relocation" from the UK to the US.

Although towards the lower end of expectations, the profit figures were well received by analysts and SmithKline's shares added 13p to 894.5p yesterday.

Mr Leschly said all the numbers were moving in the right direction. The group had filed 154 product approvals in 24 developing markets, "which suggests we can continue to grow in double digits", he said. The group had sold, restructured or closed 12 plants in the past year and there were another eight to go.

Investment column, page 21