NAPSR News: Pharmaceutical shares soar after Novartis and Glaxo deal

Novartis and GSK to join forces in consumer healthcare, while Pfizer thought to be considering a $100bn bid for AstraZeneca
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WASHINGTON - April 22, 2014 - PRLog -- Novartis and GlaxoSmithKline have agreed a multibillion dollar swap of assets under which the two pharmaceutical companies will join forces in the consumer healthcare sector combining brands including Aquafresh, Beechams and Tixylix and exchange their oncology and vaccine businesses.

The deal comes amid a frenzy of takeover speculation in the sector with the US drugs group Pfizer thought to be considering a $100bn (£59bn) bid for AstraZeneca and Valeant Pharmaceuticals looking at Botox-maker Allergan in a $40bn move.

Shares in GSK rose over 5% to £16.45 and Switzerland's Novartis rose 2% to 76.25 Swiss francs. AstraZeneca rose nearly 7% and the UK's Shire jumped 4% to £30.49on hopes of more deals to come.

GSK shareholders will benefit from a £4bn capital return funded by net proceeds of $7.8bn from the deal, in which the Brentford-based firm is selling its oncology business to Novartis for $16bn and purchasing its new partner's vaccine business for an initial $5.25bn. A further $1.8bn is promised if the division performs well.

Novartis, meanwhile, is selling its animal health division to US pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly for $5.4bn.

Andrew Witty, chief executive of GSK, said the complex deal had taken months to agree but was a step on from the mega mergers of the past under which companies might gain two or three useful businesses alongside seven or eight unwanted elements which could distract attention from developing its core business. "I believe if you really focus the transaction on just the things you really care about you can create tremendous value in that space," Witty said.

"Opportunities to build greater scale and combine high quality assets in vaccines and consumer healthcare are scarce. With this transaction we will substantially strengthen two of our core businesses and create significant new options to increase value for shareholders," Witty said.

The combined consumer healthcare business will house 19 brands, including Panadol and Nicotinell, with sales of more than $10bn worldwide in what Witty described as a "powerhouse in over-the-counter products". Witty added that the deal strengthened GSK's global leadership in the vaccines market and increased its scale in consumer health products and would deliver immediate sales and earnings benefits once completed in early 2015. GSK will continue to develop experimental cancer treatments and could market these itself in future, although Novartis will have first refusal if it decides to seek a partnership with a third party.

Savvas Neophytou, an analyst at Panmure Gordon, upgraded GSK to a 'buy' as he said the deal was a sensible move away from "white tablet" pharmaceuticals and the lacklustre oncology business after a tricky few weeks for the company, which has been embroiled in corruption allegations. "Today's transaction shows management will not sit idly by waiting for the pipeline to mature but will take brave decisions to unlock shareholder value," Neophytou wrote in a note.

But Tim Anderson at Bernstein Research said the acquistion of GSK's cancer division was good news for Novartis. "It is odd to us that GSK would give up this business as oncology is a 'hot' therapeutic area and the company has had some pipeline successes," he said.

Joseph Jimenez, chief executive of Novartis, said the agreements with GSK marked a "a transformational moment for Novartis. They focus company on leading businesses with innovation power and global scale." He said profits would improve as it brought in the higher margin cancer business and sold off the less profitable animal health and vaccines groups.

The transaction between the two major pharmaceutical companies will meanwhile lead to a cascade of smaller deals.

GSK is to accelerate a review of its historic medicines business – which include drugs such as the antidepressant Seroxat and the prostate cancer drug Avodart – and investors should "not be surprised if we are able to transact a disposal in the next year or two". At the same time, Novartis said it would seeking a buyer for its flu-vaccine business which is not included in the wider vaccines deal with GSK.

While the Novartis-GSK transactions will face scrutiny from competition watchdogs, Witty said he did not expect a "substantial number of issues", because the businesses were "remarkably complementary" both in geographic and product terms.

The company expects to gain £1bn in annual cost savings in the fifth year after completing the deal. Witty said there would be "minimal impact" to jobs in the UK and that new jobs in research and development could be created as the company expected to reinvest £200m of its savings in new research and development.


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Page Updated Last on: Apr 28, 2014
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