Jars of Horlicks, produced by GlaxoSmithKline Plc, are seen on a supermarket shelf in London, U.K. (Photographer: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg)

Glaxo Seeks Bids Mid-September for $4 Billion India Sale

(Bloomberg) -- U.K. pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline Plc has requested bids by mid-September for its $4.3 billion Indian consumer-health unit, which owns the popular malted milk brand Horlicks, people with knowledge of the matter said.

Glaxo has sent out an information memorandum with preliminary details about the business to possible suitors, according to the people, who asked not to be identified because the information is private. The sale has attracted interest from potential bidders including Nestle SA, PepsiCo Inc. and Reckitt Benckiser Group Plc, they said.

The U.K. drugmaker announced in March that it aims to complete a strategic review of Horlicks and other nutritional products by the end of this year. The company is assessing its 72.5 percent holding in India-listed GlaxoSmithKline Consumer Healthcare Ltd. as part of that process. Proceeds from a potential sale could be used to finance Glaxo’s $13 billion buyout of Novartis AG’s stake in their consumer-health joint venture.

Glaxo Seeks Bids Mid-September for $4 Billion India Sale

Representatives for Glaxo and Nestle declined to comment. Spokesmen for Reckitt and Pepsi had no immediate comment.

Glaxo’s review of assets includes its 82 percent stake in the Dhaka-listed GlaxoSmithKline Bangladesh Ltd., as well as marketing rights to some consumer-health brands in other emerging economies including Malaysia, the people said. There’s no certainty the deliberations will lead to a transaction, and the parent company may yet decide to keep the businesses, they said.

Shares of GlaxoSmithKline Consumer Healthcare have advanced nearly 9 percent in India trading this year, giving the company a market value of 299 billion rupees ($4.3 billion).

The Indian division’s brands include Boost, a malt-based drink that’s been endorsed by cricket legend Sachin Tendulkar, as well as Viva, a beverage that contains wheat and barley, and chocolate caramel drink Maltova, its website shows.

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