NEW YORK/LONDON (Reuters) – GlaxoSmithKline (GSK.L) has pulled ahead in a race to buy Pfizer’s (PFE.N) consumer healthcare business, which the U.S. drugmaker believes could be worth as much as $20 billion, after its main rival Reckitt Benckiser (RB.L) quit the auction.
Sources familiar with the matter said on Thursday that the British pharmaceuticals group had submitted a binding bid. It is possible there may still be other offers, the sources added, or Pfizer could decide against a sale.
Reckitt said late on Wednesday it had only offered to buy part of the Pfizer business, which proved unacceptable. One person familiar with the matter said the company had been most interested in the best-selling painkiller Advil.
Although consumer remedies sold over the counter have lower margins than prescription drugs, they are typically very well known and durable brands with loyal customers.
Limited buyer demand could now ease pressure on GSK to pay top-dollar or might instead allow it to coax the Pfizer unit into a joint venture it has with Novartis (NOVN.S), some investors and bankers said, although this would be complex.
MARCH 21, 2018