Pfizer to exit GSK’s consumer health arm after London listing

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FILE PHOTO: A person walks past a Pfizer logo in New York City

By Natalie Grover and Ludwig Burger

LONDON (Reuters) -Pfizer plans to exit its 32% stake in Haleon, a consumer health joint venture with British drugmaker GSK, after the business lists as an independent company in July, GSK said on Wednesday.

GSK is spinning off Haleon, which makes Sensodyne toothpaste and Advil painkillers, so it can focus on disease prevention and treatment. GSK rejected a 50 billion pound ($63 billion) offer for Haleon last year, saying it undervalued the firm.

Pfizer previously said it wanted to sell its shareholding in Haleon but GSK, which has a 68% controlling interest in the world’s biggest consumer health business, had said in February the U.S. drugmaker would instead retain a stake.

It also said Pfizer would appoint two members of Haleon’s board while GSK would relinquish representation.

GSK’s latest statement suggested Pfizer’s board nominees would stay even though the U.S. drugmaker planned to sell up, but GSK said Pfizer would exit in a “disciplined manner”.

Pfizer was not immediately available for comment.

GSK has applied to Britain’s regulator to list Haleon on the London Stock Exchange on July 18 and said it expected to apply to list the health business on the New York Stock Exchange soon.

Expectations for the consumer healthcare business’s market valuation are high after GSK rejected the 50 billion pound offer from Unilever, which abandoned its pursuit in January.

If it secures valuation of 50 billion pound or more it will be the largest listing by market capitalisation on the London Stock Exchange in at least two decades, excluding joint listings made via the Shanghai London Stock Connect project.

As a comparison, mining and commodity trading giant Glencore was valued at £36.7 billion on its 2011 London listing.

Haleon was poised to generate above market, medium-term annual organic revenue growth of 4% to 6%, GSK said.

Haleon’s closest competitors in the non-prescription drugs, vitamins and oral care market are Procter and Gamble, Colgate-Palmolive, Johnson & Johnson and Bayer.

Before the spinoff, the holding company for Haleon will pay dividends to GSK and Pfizer. GSK said it would receive cash proceeds of more than 7 billion pounds at separation.

After the spinoff, at least 54.5% of Haleon’s total issued ordinary share capital would be held by GSK shareholders and 6% would be held by GSK, the company said.

Following the split, GSK will focus on pharmaceuticals and vaccines and can no longer rely on steady consumer health revenue to offset some of the unpredictability of drug development.

Under pressure from shareholders such as activist investor Elliot, GSK has sought to shore up its drug pipeline.

It has also made acquisitions, agreeing to purchase cancer drug developer Sierra Oncology in a $1.9 billion deal and unveiling plans to pay up to $3.3 billion for vaccine developer Affinivax.

($1 = 0.7933 pounds)

(Reporting by Natalie Grover in London and Ludwig Burger in Frankfurt; Additional reporting by Lucy Raitano in London; Twitter: @NatalieGrover; Editing by Josephine Mason and Edmund Blair)

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