GSK on the hunt for suitor to buy drugs portfolio

Michael Bow
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THE UK’S biggest drug maker Glaxosmithkline has raised the for sale sign on a number of its best known products, alerting a host of private equity suitors to the opportunity in a bid to secure a buyer.

GSK, led by chief executive Sir Andrew Witty, has appointed Lazard to drum up interest in the sale, which could see up to 50 drugs in its established product portfolio sold off.

The firm has alerted US buyout giants like Advent International, KKR and Blackstone to the sale of the wide-ranging portfolio.

The sale forms part of a wider overhaul of the FTSE 100 giant by Witty, coming hot on the heels of a asset swap between GSK and rival Novartis last month which radically reshaped the drug giants.

The 50 products in the portfolio include migraine reliever Imitrex and sickness drug Zofra and the drug prescribed for anti-depression Seroxat.

The company had said at the end of April it was “reviewing” the established product portfolio to maximise the value of it.

The sale, first reported yesterday by Sky News, comes in the wake of a tough week for GSK after it revealed on Tuesday that it was subject to a Serious Fraud Office crime probe, thought to centre on allegations of bribery in China as well as other emerging markets.

Shares rose half a per cent yesterday to close at 1,616.50p.