Glaxo CEO: Consumer health IPO may be in our future

GlaxoSmithKline CEO Andrew Witty

When GlaxoSmithKline's ($GSK) multibillion-dollar asset swap with Novartis ($NVS) closes this year, don't expect the British pharma giant to stop there, its CEO says--especially when it comes to consumer health.

Once the GSK's consumer unit becomes part of the industry-leading OTC joint venture the two companies are set to create, it'll be more viable as a standalone operation, helmsman Andrew Witty told Reuters. And if it buys up additional assets? Even more viable.

"Post-Novartis, particularly if we did more transactions in the consumer space, the idea of the consumer company being a standalone consumer powerhouse is much more tenable," Witty told the news service.

Of course, with rivals like Bayer and Sanofi ($SNY) also working to bulk up in the OTC department, those deals may be a bit harder to come by. Smaller players like Perrigo ($PRGO)--which recently snapped up Belgian consumer company Omega Pharma, reportedly beating out a group of larger competitors--are in the mix, too.

"Future M&A in the consumer space could get quite interesting again," Witty said.

With the Novartis deal still pending, nothing is planned for the near term, of course. But as Witty told Reuters, there are considerable opportunities to change up the company's structure, and management will be keeping an eye on them.

If Glaxo does one day find the JV--of which it controls the majority stake--in line for an IPO, it wouldn't be the company's first. Back in October, it announced plans for an IPO of a minority stake in ViiV Healthcare, its HIV business.

Nor would it be anything the industry hasn't seen plenty of lately, with drugmakers enthusiastically riding the slim-down wave. This year, Bayer plans to jettison its plastics division, while Baxter ($BAX) is cooking up a biopharma spinoff, to name a couple divestments in the works.

- get more from Reuters

Special Reports: The top 10 pharma companies by 2013 revenue - GlaxoSmithKline | Pharma's top 10 M&A deals of H1 2014 - GlaxoSmithKline Oncology/Novartis Vaccines (excluding flu)

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