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GlaxoSmithKline rejects $68B offer from Unilever for consumer goods division

By Adam Schrader
GlaxoSmithKline rejects $68B offer from Unilever for consumer goods division
A security guard hoists a GlaxoSmithKline company flag outside the GSK factory in Shanghai, China, in 2013. GSK has rejected three unsolicited offers from Unilever, including one worth $68 billion, to acquire its consumer goods division. File Photo by EPA-EFE

Jan. 15 (UPI) -- Healthcare product maker GlaxoSmithKline has rejected three unsolicited offers from Unilever, including one worth $68 billion, to acquire its consumer goods division, the company confirmed Saturday.

If successful, the takeover between the two London-based companies would add GSK brands such as Sensodyne, Aquafresh and ChapStick to the list of brands owned by Unilever -- which include Axe, Dove and Vaseline.

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"GSK rejected all three proposals made on the basis that they fundamentally undervalued the Consumer Healthcare business and its future prospects," the company said in a statement.

The GSK announcement was made in response to reporting from The Sunday Times of London, which did not reveal how it had obtained the information. Unilever has also since released a statement confirming the attempted acquisition in response to the reporting from the Times.

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"GSK Consumer Healthcare is a leader in the attractive consumer health space and would be a strong strategic fit as Unilever continues to re-shape its portfolio," Unilever said in its statement. "There can be no certainty that any agreement will be reached."

GSK's consumer healthcare business is a joint venture with U.S. company Pfizer, which has not released a statement about the attempted acquisition.

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GSK revealed that the most recent $68 billion offer from Unilever came Dec. 20 and comprised about $57 billion in cash and about $11.4 billion in Unilever shares.

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"The board of GSK unanimously concluded that the proposals were not in the best interests of GSK shareholders," the company said, noting that its business is well-positioned to grow in the consumer healthcare sector.

GSK said that the company "remains focused" on spinning off its Consumer Healthcare business into a new company by mid-2022, after hiring former Tesco CEO Dave Lewis to lead the new venture.

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