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Glaxo (GSK) Stock Down As Unilever Decides Not to Raise Offer

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Shares of GlaxoSmithKline (GSK - Free Report) declined 2.4% on Jan 19 after Unilever (UL - Free Report) expressed its unwillingness to raise its bid of £50 billion (approximately $68 billion) for Glaxo’s consumer healthcare business. Unilever had likely raised its offer for Glaxo’s Consumer Healthcare business twice before its final offer of $68 billion in December last year. However, Glaxo stated in a press release earlier this month that it had rejected all three offers.

Unilever released a statement yesterday stating that after analyzing recently shared financial assumptions for Glaxo’s Consumer Healthcare business, it has decided not to increase its final offer. Unilever stated that the recent financial assumption for the consumer healthcare business “does not change their view on fundamental view of the business.”

Per a Bloomberg article, analysts are valuing Glaxo’s consumer business at as much as £48 billion and it was believed that any successful acquisition offer from Unilever should pay a significant premium over this valuation to attract Glaxo.

Unilever had been facing backlash from its investors as well as several analysts following its statement after the rejection of its last offer by Glaxo. Unilever’s statement reflected that it might continue to pursue the acquisition of Glaxo’s Consumer Healthcare business despite failing thrice. Analysts have strongly voiced concerns that a raised bid for the consumer healthcare business will lead to huge debt for Unilever. Rating agency, Fitch, also warned that Unilever might see a rating downgrade due to its high debt levels following a potential increase in the offer price.

Unilever’s investors cheered its decision of not increasing the offer. This was reflected in its share price, which rose 7.7% on Jan 19.

Meanwhile, Glaxo remains on track with its plan to spin off the Consumer business into a standalone company in mid-2022. The company has been consistently under pressure from its investors over the past few years to separate its core pharmaceutical business and the consumer business into separate entities to drive shareholders’ wealth. A better acquisition offer from Unilever or any other company may result in a sale instead of a spin-off.

In the trailing 12 months, Glaxo’s shares have risen 20.2% compared with the industry’s 13.7% increase.

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Glaxo’s Consumer Healthcare business is a joint venture with Pfizer (PFE - Free Report) , with the former owning the controlling stake at 68% and Pfizer holding the rest. The joint venture with Pfizer in 2019 put Glaxo’s Consumer Healthcare business in the leader’s position.

In 2015, Glaxo had formed a joint venture with Novartis (NVS - Free Report) by combining their consumer divisions.

Glaxo acquired Novartis’ stake in its joint consumer business in 2018 for almost $13 billion. Novartis had acquired Glaxo’s oncology products as part of the deal.

Zacks Rank

Glaxo currently has a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.


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