GlaxoSmithKline to raise India unit stake in Rs 52.2b deal

Tags: Companies
GlaxoSmithKline Plc plans to buy up to an additional 31.8 percent stake in its Indian consumer products arm for about 52.2 billion rupees, as Britain's biggest drugmaker deepens its emerging markets and non-prescription consumer health footprint.

GlaxoSmithKline plans to raise its stake in GlaxoSmithKline Consumer Healthcare Ltd to 75 percent from 43.2 percent, paying 3,900 rupees per share through an open offer, it said in a statement.

The price represents a premium of 28 percent to the stock's Friday close.

The news sent shares of GSK Consumer Healthcare to a record high. The shares were locked at 3,659.20 rupees, up 20 percent, their maximum daily trading limit, while the Mumbai market was up 0.23 percent, by 11:30 a.m.

"This transaction represents a further step in GSK's strategy to invest in the world's fastest growing markets," David Redfern, chief strategy officer at GlaxoSmithKline, said in the statement.

The company, however, has "no current plans" to launch an open offer for its Indian drugs unit GlaxoSmithKline Pharmaceuticals Ltd, he added.

HORLICKS PLAN

Tough market conditions in Europe have hampered GSK's hopes for a return to sales growth this year, although the company's growing business in emerging markets and its large consumer healthcare operation are both doing well.

In India, for example, sales of the consumer unit's flagship Horlicks brand stood at 270 million pounds in the year that ended December 2011, contributing to nearly three-quarters of its total revenues.

"A lot of the current business of Horlicks is in the south and the east of India. So there is still a great opportunity to increase the penetration to the north and the west," Redfern told Reuters in an interview, adding that the company intended to introduce new variants of the brand in the country.

GlaxoSmithKline does not plan to delist the unit.

Securities regulations in India require a minimum public shareholding of 25 percent for a company to maintain a public listing.

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