GlaxoSmithKline has announced that AstraZeneca's Luke Miels has been appointed president of its Global Pharmaceuticals division.

Miehls, previously at the helm of AZ' European arm, is replacing Abbas Hussain, current head of GSK's pharmaceuticals, taking on responsibility for a portfolio of products that bring in sales of more than £15 billion a year from operations in over 100 markets.

His announcement comes as GSK gears up to a change in leadership from April, when Emma Walmsley takes over as chief executive from Sir Andrew Witty.

Commenting on the appointment, Walmsley said that Miels brings "a combination of excellent R&D insight and a strong track record of commercial execution.

"We are now entering a critical period of commercialisation for our new pharmaceutical products and, over the next two to three years, we have important data to come on our early-stage pipeline. Luke will bring a strong new voice to the decisions and choices we will have to make for our Pharmaceuticals business."

The Financial Times reported that Morgan Stanley analyst Nicolas Guyon-Gellin Morgan Stanley believes the move will likely be welcomed by investors as Miels' experience in the pharmaceuticals arena - garnered through roles at AZ, Roche and Sanofi, will complement Walmsley's expertise in consumer healthcare.

Hussain, who first joined GSK in 2008, is to leave the firm later this year, though a date is yet to be confirmed.

Commenting on his departure, Sir Andrew said in his time at GSK Hussain "has proven himself to be one of the most talented and authentic leaders in the healthcare industry.

"Succession processes are challenging for everyone involved and, unfortunately, it is rare that all of those involved stay with the company. I wish him well in his future and thank him for the significant contribution he has made to GSK and the lives of many patients around the world."