Glaxo Abandons Sale of Older Drugs

Features Reuters

GlaxoSmithKline said on Thursday it had decided not to sell a portfolio of older drugs marketed in North America and Europe after considering offers from potential buyers.

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"The company has evaluated all bids received and has concluded, consistent with its key criteria of maximizing shareholder value, not to pursue divestment of these products," it said in a statement.

A spokesman for GSK, which was being advised on the disposal by Lazard, declined to give any more details.

People familiar with the situation said last month that several private equity firms and smaller drug companies were looking at the assets on the block, which had been expected to sell for more than $3 billion.

Some analysts, however, had questioned the timing of the sale since GSK is struggling with stagnant overall pharmaceutical sales, putting pressure on its dividend, and divesting the mature drugs would have hit earnings in the short term.

The drugs that had been on the block, known as established products, are expected to have combined 2014 sales of around 1 billion pounds($1.6 billion) but their sales are in long-term decline due to competition from cheaper generics.

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They included antidepressant Paxil, migraine treatment Imitrex, Zantac for stomach acid and Zofran for nausea. The company always intended to retain the rights to such products in emerging markets, where they are still growing. (1 US dollar = 0.6367 British pound) (Reporting by Ben Hirschler. Editing by Jane Merriman)