GlaxoSmithKline CEO Emma Walmsley's boldest move yet is to split the group. Picture: REUTERS/TOBYMELVILLE
GlaxoSmithKline CEO Emma Walmsley's boldest move yet is to split the group. Picture: REUTERS/TOBYMELVILLE

London — GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) plans to split into two businesses — one for prescription drugs and vaccines, the other for over-the-counter products — after forming a new joint venture with Pfizer’s consumer health division.

The revamp is the boldest move yet by CEO Emma Walmsley, who took over last year. She has previously played down the idea of breaking up the group, something that a number of investors have called for over the years.

On Wednesday, however, Walmsley announced that GSK and Pfizer would combine their consumer health businesses in a joint venture with sales of £9.8bn, 68%-owned by the British company, in an all-equity transaction.

GSK said the deal laid the foundation for the creation of two new UK-based global companies focused on pharma/vaccines and consumer healthcare within three years of the transaction closing.

For Pfizer, the deal resolves the issue of what to do with its consumer health division, which includes Advil painkillers and Centrum vitamins, after an abortive attempt to sell it outright earlier this year.

The new joint venture with Pfizer is expected to generate total annual cost savings of £500m by 2022 for expected total cash costs of £900m and non-cash charges of £300m. GSK plans divestments of some £1bn.

In a bid to reassure investors of its financial strength, GSK extended its guarantee on the dividend by stating it expected to pay unchanged dividends of 80p per share for 2019. 

Reuters