GSK may sell Horlicks, India arm stake for up to $4 billion to fund $13 billion Novartis buy

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Published: March 28, 2018 10:53:42 AM

British pharma major GlaxoSmithKline Plc is considering selling its near 150-year old health drink Horlicks, even as it looks to fund a $13 billion deal with Novartis. We take a closer look at GSK's rationale for the deal.

GloaxoSmithKline looks to sell holdings in India unit to fund Novartis deal.Apart from plans to sell the dietary brand Horlicks, GSK is also looking to trim down its stake in Indian unit GSK Consumer Healthcare to fund the buyout of Novartis’ stake in a global consumer healthcare joint venture. (Image: Reuters)

British pharma major GlaxoSmithKline Plc is considering selling its near 150-year old health drink Horlicks, even as it looks to fund a $13 billion deal with Novartis.Apart from plans to sell the dietary brand Horlicks, GSK is also looking to trim down its stake in Indian unit GSK Consumer Healthcare to fund the buyout of Novartis’ stake in a global consumer healthcare joint venture. Reuters reported sources as saying that the main asset on the block is worth $3.1 billion, and could fetch GSK up to $4 billion. According to GSK’s statement, the company is initiating a strategic review of Horlicks and its other consumer healthcare nutrition products to support funding of the transaction. We take a closer look at GSK’s rationale for the deal.

Focus on OTC and Oral Healthcare

The company is looking to increase focus on OTC and oral health categories, according to a statement by GSK. GSK’s products in this category includes Sensodyne toothpaste, Eno antacid, Panadol headache tablets, muscle gel Voltaren and Nicotinell patches. Notably, nearly 85-90% of total Horlicks sales come from the India market. According to Emma Walmsley, CEO of GlaxoSmithKline, India continues to remain a priority market for GSK. 

Expected outcome of “strategic review” by 2018 end

GSK said that while it is considering a strategic review in Horlicks, the review process may not result in any transaction. Further, GSK expects the the outcome of the strategic review to be concluded around the end of 2018. Notably, while the combined turnover of Horlicks and other nutrition products were approximately £550 million in 2017, a lion’s share ie about 85-90% of total Horlicks sales come from the India market.

Nestle, Kraft and Unilever interested in Horlicks

Prominent food giants Food giants Nestle, Kraft Heinz and Unilever are expected to bid for GlaxoSmithKline’s  Horlicks health nutrition business, Reuters reported citing sources. According to the report, the deal could fetch up to $4 billion. Sources told the agency that the main asset on the block is GSK’s 72.5 percent stake in its Indian subsidiary GlaxoSmithKline Consumer Healthcare. Further, the agency reported the sources as saying that the stake was worth $3.1 billion at current market prices but GSK wanted a premium in any sale.

Novartis deal to unlock shareholder value

According to GSK’s statement the deal with Novartis will help GSK to to address one of their key capital allocation priorities and will allow GSK shareholders to capture the full value of one of the world’s leading consumer healthcare businesses. Meanwhile, Novartis chief executive Vas Narasimhan said that though the consumer healthcare joint venture was doing well, the time was right for Novartis to sell a non-core asset at an “attractive” price.

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