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GSK to take control of Consumer Healthcare in £9.2bn buyout

Published on 27/03/18 at 08:56am

GSK has announced that it plans to purchase Novartis’ 36.5% stake in the joint Consumer Healthcare Business for a sum of £9.2 billion.

The decision comes days after GSK decided that it wouldn’t pursue a deal for Pfizer’s Consumer Healthcare unit.

Moving to take on complete ownership of the Consumer Healthcare unit seems to be a move well-suited to both companies, and the markets seemed to reflect that; Novartis shares were 1.64% up on the news and GSK’s were up by 4.05%.

The major benefit for GSK, alongside accreting a business currently enjoying steady growth, is that it removes uncertainty.

The joint venture began three years ago, with the merger of the two businesses’ healthcare units but Novartis always had the option to force GSK to buy its stake – meaning that forward planning was made slightly more complicated, given that Novartis could demand a sale at any time and therefore tie up funds.

Emma Walmsley, Chief Executive Officer, GSK said: “The proposed transaction addresses one of our key capital allocation priorities and will allow GSK shareholders to capture the full value of one of the world’s leading Consumer Healthcare businesses. For the Group, the transaction is expected to benefit adjusted earnings and cash flows, helping us accelerate efforts to improve performance. Most importantly it also removes uncertainty and allows us to plan use of our capital for other priorities, especially pharmaceuticals R&D.”

For Novartis, it allows new CEO, Vas Narasimhan, extra capital to stamp his mark on the business; the company suggested that it would be looking to use the funds to bring in bolt-on acquisitions.

Overall, GSK expects the future to be promising for the business, predicting that growth would see it achieve operating margins approaching ‘mid-20’s’ percentage by 2022.

In order to fund the move, the company reiterated its desire to offload the Horlicks business, which achieves most of its sales in India. Rather than nutrition products, the new look business will focus instead on over-the-counter products and oral health.

Ben Hargreaves

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