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Former GlaxoSmithKline CEO Andrew Witty takes the helm at Optum

Current Optum CEO Larry Renfro will take over at the company's investment arm Optum Ventures.

Beth Jones Sanborn, Managing Editor

Credit: Google Street ViewCredit: Google Street View

UnitedHealth Group has announced leadership changes that will drive an an expansion of its Optum Ventures arm.

The insurance giant has tapped former GlaxoSmithKline CEO Andrew Witty to lead the company as its new CEO, effective July 1, 2018. Witty has served as a member of the UnitedHealth Group board of directors since August 2017, but will step down in light of his new position.

[Also: Optum Ventures is looking for startups that will make fundamental changes to healthcare system]

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The leadership change clears the way for current Optum CEO and vice chair of UnitedHealth Group Larry Renfro to lead UnitedHealth Group's enterprise growth and Optum's next-generation investment initiatives through an expanded Optum Ventures. 

"Renfro will focus his work on UnitedHealth Group growth priorities and developing, maintaining and expanding strategic relationships, sponsorships and partnerships worldwide," the company said.

Renfro will also help drive their innovation capacities as managing partner of Optum Ventures, a series of domestic and international funds that now includes a new $100 million Global Fund focused on emerging and advanced technology, data analytics and healthcare services companies that hold "transformative" potential for the industry. The new global fund complements the domestic Optum Ventures fund announced in November 2017 with investment commitments up to $600 million.

Renfro joined UnitedHealth Group in 2009 as CEO for the Public and Seniors Market Group. He was named CEO of Optum in 2011 and vice chair in 2014. 

Witty has a 33-year history with GSK, including his tenure as CEO and director from 2008 until 2017. He is also the outgoing Chancellor of the University of Nottingham and serves on the Singapore Economic Development Board International Advisory Committee, the Council at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and as an Advisor to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Witty was knighted in 2012 for services to the U.K. economy. 

"Andrew Witty is the right person to lead our well-established, high performing team, as Optum pursues its next chapter of consistent growth and health system improvement," Renfro said.

Witty added that Optum has an unique opportunity to strengthen the health care experience, outcomes and value. 

"In many ways, even with all its accomplishments," Witty said, "Optum feels as though it is just getting started."

Twitter: @BethJSanborn
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