Glaxo seeks mid-Sept bids for $4 billion Indian Horlicks unit: Report

GlaxoSmithKline | Photo: Reuters
UK pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline Plc has requested bids by mid-September for its $4.3 billion Indian consumer-health unit, which owns the popular malted milk brand Horlicks, people with knowledge of the matter said.

Glaxo has sent out an information memorandum with preliminary details about the business to potential suitors, according to the people, who asked not to be identified because the information is private. The sale has attracted interest from potential bidders including Nestle SA, PepsiCo Inc. and Reckitt Benckiser Group Plc, they said.

The UK drugmaker announced in March that it aims to complete a strategic review of Horlicks and other nutritional products by the end of this year. The company is assessing its 72.5 per cent holding in India-listed GlaxoSmithKline Consumer Healthcare Ltd. as part of that process. Proceeds from a potential sale could be used to finance Glaxo’s $13 billion buyout of Novartis AG’s stake in their consumer-health joint venture.

Representatives for Glaxo and Nestle declined to comment. Spokesmen for Reckitt and Pepsi had no immediate comment.

Glaxo’s review of assets includes its 82 per cent stake in the Dhaka-listed GlaxoSmithKline Bangladesh Ltd., as well as marketing rights to some consumer-health brands in other emerging economies including Malaysia, the people said. There’s no certainty the deliberations will lead to a transaction, and the parent company may yet decide to keep the businesses, they said.

Shares of GlaxoSmithKline Consumer Healthcare have advanced almost 10 per cent in Mumbai trading this year, giving it a market value of Rs 299 billion ($4.3 billion).

The Indian division’s brands include Boost, a malt-based drink that’s been endorsed by cricket legend Sachin Tendulkar, as well as Viva, a beverage that contains wheat and barley, and chocolate caramel drink Maltova, the website shows.

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