UNITED KINGDOM — Global pharmaceutical company GSK has made headlines with its announcement of the sale of a portion of its stake in Haleon, its consumer health spinoff.

This transaction is expected to generate an impressive US$1 billion (£804 million) in gross proceeds.

The creation of Haleon was the result of a merger between GSK and Pfizer’s consumer healthcare businesses back in 2019.

Following the merger, Haleon was spun off and listed on the London stock exchange in July 2022.

GSK, which currently holds the second-largest stake in Haleon, will retain 955 million ordinary shares in the company after the sale, representing approximately 10.3% of the total issued share capital.

The agreement stipulates that GSK will sell 240 million shares of Haleon at a price of 335 pence per share (equivalent to US$1.74).

The decision to divest part of its stake aligns with Pfizer’s strategic focus on being a science-based leader in innovative medicines and vaccines.

Both GSK and Pfizer have agreed not to sell any additional shares of Haleon for a 60-day period, demonstrating their commitment to supporting the stability and growth of the company.

Haleon, known for its popular brands such as Sensodyne toothpaste, Theraflu, and Advil, holds a strong position in the consumer health market.

During the formation of Haleon, consumer goods giant Unilever expressed interest in acquiring GSK.

However, GSK rejected Unilever’s offers, considering them to undervalue the business. Interestingly, when Haleon made its debut on the London Stock Exchange, its valuation fell significantly below the £50 billion (US$62 billion) offered by Unilever.

The initial trading price for Haleon was 330 pence (US$1.7) per share, but it experienced a decline to around 317 pence (US$1.6) by mid-morning.

As a result, the market value of the company was estimated at approximately £31 billion (roughly US$38.6 billion), considerably lower than Unilever’s proposed offer.

While Haleon’s recent quarterly profit fell short of expectations due to increased costs squeezing margins, GSK remains focused on developing an inoculation for respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), a virus responsible for 8,000 deaths annually in the UK alone.

GSK aims to launch its RSV jab later this year, competing against other pharmaceutical companies in the race to bring a solution to the market.

In the midst of these developments, a dispute over pay has led to hundreds of GSK workers planning a series of walkouts in May, adding another layer of complexity for the company to address.

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