Pharmaceutical industry: Unilever has offered to buy the consumer healthcare arm of GSK

Published on 15 Jan. 2021 at 15: 48 Updated on 15 Jan. 2021 at 15: 15

The Unilever group has confirmed its interest in the British multinational GlaxoSmithKline, more particularly for the consumer health branch of the pharmaceutical group. The British, global giant in agri-food, hygiene and home maintenance, has “approached GSK and Pfizer about a possible acquisition” of GSK Consumer Healthcare, the statement said.

“GSK Consumer Healthcare is a leader in the attractive consumer healthcare space and would be a great strategic fit as Unilever continues to reshape its portfolio,” the UK group said in a statement. The Sunday Times newspaper mentions an amount of 50 billion pounds, i.e. 60 Billions of Euro’s. This branch of GSK notably markets the toothpaste brand Sensodyne, or even Advil and Voltaren.

“No certainty” about the agreement

“There can be no certainty that an agreement will be reached,” Unilever added in its statement. According to information from the “Sunday Times”, the offer was made at the end of the year 2021 and rejected by the group. It would indeed have been considered too low by GSK and by Pfizer, which holds a minority stake in the consumer health branch of the pharmaceutical group. It is not certain that Unilever will raise its offer, adds the newspaper.

According to Bloomberg, GSK CEO Emma Walmsley is under pressure from investors, including activist fund Elliott Investment Management, to be more open to a possible sale of the consumer division. For his part, Unilever CEO Alan Jope is also under pressure from some investors due to the company’s poor performance on the stock market lately. Terry Smith, one of the main shareholders of Unilever, criticized the group for promoting the sustainability of certain references to the detriment of economic performance of the company.