Wellcome chairman may leave with £2m


John Robb, chairman of Wellcome, is likely to leave the company "in days" with a pay-off close to £2m, following the £9bn takeover of the drugs group by rival Glaxo.

His departure is expected to be announced this week - possibly as early as today - alongside that of Russell Walls, the finance director who joined the group from Coats Viyella only in January.

Mr Robb is on a two-year contract and saw his annual salary rise from £420,000 to £475,000 on 1 January, which could potentially entitle him to £950,000. He also has over 275,256 share options, which were showing a net profit of just over £1m yesterday, with Wellcome's shares at £10.52. These can be triggered following a bid.

On top of that, Mr Robb has been granted 37,234 options under a long- term incentive plan which he may be entitled to exercise in current circumstances.

Mr Walls' payout is likely to pale in comparison. Also on a two-year contract, his annual salary is £250,000, theoretically giving him £500,000. But the payment will be subject to negotiation with the company and Mr Walls has not been at Wellcome long enough to qualify for share options.

Mr Robb refused to comment last night, but a source close to the company said an announcement was imminent. It is understood that at least some other Wellcome directors are likely to be kept on for the time being. "The integration programme is such that it is unlikely that one will see wholesale departures of directors from the Wellcome board. That is not to say they won't eventually go, but there won't be mass departures," the source said.