Food & Flavour

GSK to divest consumer healthcare nutrition products to Unilever

Following the completion of its previously announced strategic review, GlaxoSmithKline announced the divestment of Horlicks and other consumer healthcare nutrition brands to Unilever and the merger of GSK Consumer Healthcare with Hindustan Unilever for a total consideration valued at approximately £3.1 billion. Net proceeds are estimated to be approximately £2.4 billion.

Following completion of the transaction, currently expected by the end of 2019, GSK intends to sell down its holding in

Hindustan Unilever. Such sell down will be in tranches and at such times as GSK considers appropriate, taking into account market conditions. In addition, GSK is to sell its 82% stake in GlaxoSmithKline Bangladesh and other related brand rights for GSK’s consumer healthcare nutrition activities in certain other territories to Unilever, for which it is expected to receive cash proceeds equivalent to £566 million.

India remains an important market for GSK and the company will continue to invest in growth opportunities for its OTC and Oral Health brands there, which include Crocin, Eno and Sensodyne.  Following completion of the transaction, Hindustan Unilever will distribute GSK’s OTC and Oral Health brands, that are currently distributed by GSK India. This arrangement will be for a period of 5 years. Hindustan Unilever is the largest FMCG company in the country, with strong distribution reaching over seven million outlets across India.

Emma Walmsley, Chief Executive Officer, GSK, said: “Horlicks has made a significant contribution to GSK and to the health of consumers across India for many decades and we believe Unilever is well placed to maximise its future potential. Proceeds from this transaction will be used to support the Group’s strategic priorities, including investing in our pharmaceutical business.”

The transaction is conditional on the approval of the merger by the shareholders and creditors of each of GSK India and Hindustan Unilever. The Boards of GSK India and Hindustan Unilever have both approved the merger. Both GSK and Unilever, who hold 72.5 % and 67.2% of the shares in GSK India and HUL respectively, intend to vote in favour of the merger.

The transaction is also subject to certain other conditions including the receipt of anti-trust clearances in India, the approval of the merger by the relevant National Company Law Tribunals and certain other customary closing conditions.

Proceeds will be used to support the Group’s strategic priorities and reduce debt and the transaction is expected to be neutral to earnings. The businesses being divested had in the 9 months to 30 September, 2018 sales of £406 million and contributed an operating profit margin percentage in the low 20s.