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Drugmaker GSK says 2021 profits sink almost a quarter

LONDON (AFP) – British pharmaceutical group GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) revealed yesterday that net profits slumped by almost a quarter in 2021, after the prior year was boosted by asset sales.

Profit after taxation sank to just under GBP4.4 billion last year, GSK said in a statement.

That compared with GBP5.7 billion in 2020, when its bottom line was boosted by divestments.

Revenues grew five per cent to GBP34.1 billion, helped by GBP1.4 billion of pandemic-related sales – particularly of antibody treatment Sotrovimab.

“We have ended the year strongly, with another quarter of excellent performance … and we enter 2022 with good momentum,” said chief executive Emma Walmsley.

The London-listed group forecast rising profit in 2022, when it will spin off its consumer health care business.

GSK expects growth in operating profit of between 12 and 14 per cent.

The news comes after consumer goods giant Unilever failed in a GBP50-billion takeover bid for the unit, which is owned by GSK and US peer Pfizer.

Glaxo revealed last month that it had received three unsolicited offers for the health care division from Unilever but rejected them all as too low.

Unilever, which will publish its earnings today, has already stated it will not increase its offer.

“2022 is … the year when we demerge our world-leading consumer healthcare business,” Walmsley said.

“Later this month, we will set out the future growth ambitions and highly attractive financial profile of this business, and the outstanding opportunity it provides for shareholders.”

GSK has faced persistent criticism from activist investors over its failure to develop a successful Covid vaccine, unlike Anglo-Swedish rival AstraZeneca.