GSK spends $667M on UCB meds

The Pfizer-Wyeth talks may be today's big splash, but it shouldn't overshadow a strategic acquisition announced by GlaxoSmithKline. The U.K. drugmaker has inked a $667 million deal for a bucketful of UCB drug rights in 50 countries, including the allergy med Zyrtec and epilepsy drug Keppra.

The aim of the deal lies in the list of countries it covers rather than the drugs included, however: They're smaller countries in Latin America, Asia, Africa and the Middle East. Obviously, it's part of CEO Andrew Witty's promised push into emerging markets. And just like Witty's acquisition strategy--a mosaic of strategic deals rather than one mighty purchase--this maneuver involves small countries rather than the obvious emerging-market behemoths. No Indias or Brazils or Chinas in the bunch.

That might not be a bad thing; GSK already has a sizable unit in India, and it just made a deal for Bristol-Myers Squibb's operations in Pakistan. Last year, it bought a portfolio of products from South Africa's Aspen Pharmacare. And its presence in China and Brazil is substantial as well.

On the UCB side, the deal allows the Belgian drugmaker to focus on its newer products and its core markets, including the emerging BRIC countries, CEO Roch Doliveux said in a statement.

- check out the UCB release
- read the Forbes story
- see the article in the Wall Street Journal