January 9, 2018 / 8:16 PM / 2 years ago

GSK CEO says looking at Pfizer consumer business, but not a priority

FILE PHOTO: GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) CEO, Emma Walmsley, arrives for a meeting in Downing Street in central London, Britain, October 9, 2017. REUTERS/Toby Melville/File Photo

(Reuters) - GlaxoSmithKline’s (GSK.L) new chief executive said on Tuesday that the British drugmaker would have a look at Pfizer Inc’s (PFE.N) consumer products business, but would not overpay for the asset.

Pfizer, the largest U.S. drugmaker, said last year it was considering strategic alternatives, including a sale or spinoff, of the consumer business, which had sales of about $3.4 billion in 2016 and could cost more than $15 billion to acquire.

“At this stage it would be weird if we didn’t look at it,” GSK Chief Executive Emma Walmsley said, responding to questions at the JP Morgan Healthcare Conference in San Francisco.

But she said it is only a look and very early, adding, “we don’t need it and we won’t overpay for it.”

Despite her consumer products background, Walmsley repeatedly said that the company’s pharmaceuticals business and pharma research and development is GSK’s top priority.

However, Walmsley said GSK has a good track record of integrating large acquisitions and that it’s consumer business does have room to grow.

Pfizer’s consumer portfolio includes well-known brands such as Advil, Chapstick lip balm and Centrum vitamins.

Walmsley said there are a very small number of assets that would be completely complementary to GSK’s existing consumer business, “and this may be one of them.”

“If we did it, it is cash generating,” she said.

Reporting by Bill Berkrot; Editing by David Gregorio

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