According to a Reuters report, Unilever this week announced that it has signed an agreement to acquire the Health Food Drinks (HFD) portfolio of GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) in India, Bangladesh and 20 other predominantly Asian markets for EUR3.30bn (c. $3.8bn). GSK’s HFD portfolio includes brands such as Horlicks and Boost. Payment will be made using a combination of cash, and shares in its listed subsidiary in India, Hindustan Unilever Ltd. The transaction is subject to customary regulatory and shareholder approvals and is expected to be completed within 12 months.
The move gives Unilever a significant presence in the fast-growing Indian market and represents one of the biggest transactions made under the firm’s departing CEO Paul Polman, who said last week that he will be stepping down from his position.
GSK originally announced its intention to sell its Horlicks brand in July 2017 as part of its restructuring effort (GSK is shifting its focus to the pharmaceuticals sector). Most of the Horlicks brand’s sales are now in India, where the product is given as a breakfast drink to children, and Unilever says that over the last 15 years GSK HFD’s portfolio has grown at a double-digit rate. However, Unilever said it believes that the Indian market still presents further opportunities for growth, and “it will leverage its expertise and market position to further develop the market.”