GSK CEO says significant interest in auction of mature drugs

LONDON, July 23 Wed Jul 23, 2014 7:47am EDT

LONDON, July 23 (Reuters) - GlaxoSmithKline has seen "very significant" interest from mid-sized pharmaceutical companies and private equity firms in acquiring a range of older drugs that it plans to divest, the drugmaker's chief executive said on Wednesday.

Andrew Witty said he hoped to sell the portfolio of mature drugs, known as established products, by the end of the year.

Reuters reported exclusively on Tuesday that Indian generics firm Lupin, some U.S. drugmakers looking for a tax-saving deal in Europe and private equity funds were all planning to bid for the assets, which have together have annual sales of around 1 billion pounds ($1.70 billion).

GSK is only planning to sell the rights to established products in North America and Western Europe. It plans to retain them in emerging markets and Japan.

($1 = 0.5870 British Pounds) (Reporting by Ben Hirschler; Editing by Kate Kelland)