Bidding war? Coca-Cola prepares offer for GSK consumer business in India: report

GlaxoSmithKline GSK House in Brentford, UK
GlaxoSmithKline's consumer products business in India is getting buyout attention from multinational corporations across varying industries, according to reports. (GlaxoSmithKline)

Coca-Cola was said to be among several players eyeing GlaxoSmithKline’s Indian consumer products business, including its storied drinks brand Horlicks, and now the beverages giant is ready to jump into the mix with a multibillion-dollar offer, The Telegraph reported.  

The consumer business—which includes other nutritional products, as well—could fetch up to $4 billion, analysts have said. Recently, the Economic Times reported Kellogg and Reckitt Benckiser are preparing for a bidding war, joining other companies such as Danone and Nestlé. Unilever and Mondelez have also taken a look at the deal, according to media reports. 

The level of interest bodes well for GSK's unit sale. The company in March said it was reviewing options for its 72.5% share of GlaxoSmithKline Consumer Healthcare Ltd., a public company listed on India’s exchanges. The sale would generate some cash at a time when GSK is working to acquire Novartis’ share in their consumer healthcare joint venture for $13 billion. 

Despite the consumer sale, GSK has stressed that it doesn’t plan to back away from the Indian market. India “remains a priority market for GSK investment and growth,” the company said earlier this year. GSK plans to back OTC and oral health brands in the market, as well as invest in pharmaceuticals and vaccines.

Meanwhile, in the U.S., Glaxo is cutting 650 jobs to reduce its cost base and reinvest the savings into new launches in R&D. The company plans to maintain or boost its field sales teams for its closed triple therapy COPD inhaler Trelegy, severe eosinophilic asthma injection Nucala and its new shingles vaccine Shingrix. In respiratory, it’s reducing its sales force in asthma and focusing on COPD.

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