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GSK rejects USD68B Unilever bid for consumer healthcare unit

LONDON (AP) – The pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) said on Saturday it has rejected an unsolicited GBP50 billion (USD68.4 billion) bid from Unilever for its consumer healthcare goods unit, a joint venture it controls in a partnership with Pfizer.

The London-based company said in a statement posted to its website that a series of three bids made by Unilever last year – the last on December 20 – were all rejected “on the basis that they fundamentally undervalued” the unit and its future prospects.

Both GSK and Unilever confirmed that an acquisition offer was made following a report in Britain’s Sunday Times. In a brief statement on its website, Unilever said “GSK Consumer Healthcare is a leader in the attractive consumer health space and would be a strong strategic fit as Unilever continues to re-shape its portfolio. There can be no certainty that any agreement will be reached.”

GSK has been planning to spin off the unit – known for products including the painkiller Advil, Sensodyne toothpaste and Tums – in mid-2022.

After integrating the consumer health businesses of Novartis (2015) and Pfizer (2019), GSK said it attained annual sales of GBP9.6 billion (USD13.1 billion) in 2021.

Consumer goods conglomerate Unilever sells a wide assortment of consumer products from Hellmann’s mayonnaise to Lipton tea and Ben & Jerry’s ice cream. Its best-known personal care brands include Dove soap and Rexona deodorant.

The offices of pharmaceutical firm GlaxoSmithKline in London. PHOTO: AP