Sunday, October 14, 2007
The secret plan of Andrew Witty?
A long time ago, Pharmagossip had this interesting post about investors clamoring for a GSK consumer division spin off (See Pharmalyst's posts on the same here). The BreakingViews column (subscription required) of this past wednesday's WSJ makes a string case for a divestiture of GSK's consumer biz. They point out that branded consumer goods companies like P&G and Reckitt Benckiser are trading at higher multiples than GSK. New consumer brands are not easily built and so GSK's division should fetch a good multiple should their new CEO Mr. Witty consider a spin off or sale. By BreakingView's math, this division will earn about $1.5 billion in operating profit this year and should fetch $25 billion in a sale!!
That is a huge multiple indeed and GSK will probably not miss brands such as Tums and Horlicks. Horlicks to Pharmalyst's amusement is an improbably named "malt beverage" (no...not the kind readers in the US are thinking) that is well liked among the UKs senior set (supposedly useful in getting a good nights sleep).
If GSK brass consider such an option they have to weigh whether to float the new subsidiary (lower taxes) or sell it to another buyer (taxes on capital gains will accrue). Pharmalyst thinks that there are plenty of buyers like P&G who will be willing to pay a premium to make a sale worthwhile.