GlaxoSmithKline Taps Goldman and Citi for Consumer Spinoff

GlaxoSmithKline Plc has hired two banks to help advise on plans to list its consumer unit next year and defend against a potential activist campaign from Elliott Investment Management, according to people familiar with the matter.

The U.K. company is working with Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Citigroup Inc. on both fronts, the people said, asking not to be identified because the matter is private.

Representatives for Glaxo, Goldman Sachs and Citigroup declined to comment.

Glaxo Chief Executive Officer Emma Walmsley outlined plans this week for the spinoff of the consumer unit, which makes such products as Aquafresh toothpaste and Nicorette gum. The company plans to list the division by mid-2022 on the London Stock Exchange, and will keep as much as 20% of the business to sell at a later date.

The company also plans to reduce its dividend for the remaining business by about 30%, all of which is part of a broader strategy to sharpen its focus on drugs for cancer, HIV and other diseases.

Elliott, the activist fund run by billionaire Paul Singer, has built a significant position in the drugmaker, according to people familiar with the matter. The New York-based hedge fund has yet to outline what sort of changes it may be seeking at the company. The firm has a history of agitating in the health-care space, including pushing for the sale of Alexion Pharmaceuticals Inc. before it agreed to be bought by AstraZeneca Plc in December for $39 billion. It has also sought changes at Alkermes Plc, Allergan Plc, Bayer AG and others.

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