GSK sells £886m stake in Sensodyne owner Haleon

GSK sells £886m stake in Sensodyne owner Haleon

  • When Haleon was spun-off last year, GSK retained a 12.9% stake in the firm 
  • The FTSE 100 group has now reduced its holding in Haleon from 10.3% to 7.4%

GSK has collected another bumper payout after offloading a stake in consumer healthcare spin-off Haleon.

The pharmaceutical giant told investors on Friday it had raised around £885.6million from selling 270 million Haleon shares at 328p each, reducing its shareholding in the company from 10.3 per cent to about 7.4 per cent.

When GSK and Pfizer spun off Haleon in July last year, the former retained a 12.9 per cent stake in the firm, while the American drugmaker owned just under a third of the shares.

Sale: GSK has raised around £885.6million from offloading a 2.9 per cent stake in Haleon

Since then, GSK has sought to shrink its holding in Haleon, whose brands include Nicorette gum and Sensodyne toothpaste, to help enhance its balance sheet and finance its drug pipeline.

In May, the FTSE 100 group – formerly named GlaxoSmithKline – raised approximately £804million after disposing of 240 million shares in the company.

Rival Pfizer also intends to trim its shareholding in order to hand more money to investors and reduce debts connected to the planned $43billion takeover of cancer treatment developer Seagen.

During the summer, its chief financial officer, David Denton, told the Financial Times that the firm would begin selling stock at a ‘slow and methodical’ pace. 

‘We love the Haleon business, but it’s not strategic,’ he added.

Following the latest share sale, both Pfizer and GSK have agreed not to dispose of any further Haleon shares for 60 days.

The pair merged their respective consumer healthcare operations as part of a joint venture in 2019, intending to hive it off into a separate business listed on the London Stock Exchange within three years.

Haleon commanded a £31billion market valuation at its initial public offering, which was the largest in the UK and Europe since commodities trader Glencore’s £37billion listing over a decade beforehand.

Prior to its spin-off, the company was the target of an ambitious £50billion takeover bid from Ben & Jerry’s owner Unilever, but this was resolutely rejected by GSK’s management.

As part of the demerger, ex-Tesco boss Sir Dave Lewis became Haleon’s chairman, while the chief executive post went to Brian McNamara, the former head of GSK’s consumer healthcare arm, who was instrumental in creating the joint venture.

In its most recent half-year results, the firm lifted its annual sales guidance after price hikes helped turnover expand by 10 per cent to £5.74billion for the six months ending June.

GSK shares were 0.7 per cent higher at 1,492.8p on early Friday afternoon. Haleon shares were 0.7 per cent down at 333.9p, slightly above their IPO price of £3.30.