GSK dealmaking: OTC buyers, China buyouts

GlaxoSmithKline ($GSK) has seen no shortage of potential buyers for the OTC brands it put on the block a few months ago, CEO Andrew Witty (photo) says. And that's just one of the several tidbits of news Witty doled out at an industry meeting in Brussels. Another tidbit: GSK's appetite for emerging markets deals isn't as sharp as it used to be.

Regarding the OTC products, GSK is trying to sell a basket of products that together account for about $815 million in annual sales, mostly in the U.S. and Europe, as Reuters reports. The assortment includes the diet pill Alli, which never really lived up to its initial hype. Rival drugmakers have been eyeing the products, Witty says, and so have private equity investors. The sale process is expected to move into higher gear over the summer.

Witty also addressed GSK's newly announced buyout of a flu vaccine joint venture in China. The company will pay £24 million for the 51 percent in that JV, the share now held by its partner Shenzhen Neptunus Interlong Bio-Technique. The company will continue to scout for more small acquisitions in that country, he said. But as for emerging-markets deals in general? Witty expects fewer bolt-on buyouts as time goes by, because those deals have grown too expensive--"[s]ky-high," in his words.

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