Novartis sells GSK its share in JV Consumer Health for $13bn

Novartis and GlaxoSmithKline have jointly announced today, before trading opened in Europe, that GSK has sold 36.5% of JV Consumer Health’s shares to GSK for $13bn. The deal allows GSK to secure one of the largest Consumer Health divisions in the market, with a market value exceeding $35bn, and to rouse the Consumer Health market, which, according to many people, was at a stalemate. The price Novartis has set for its stake, corresponding to 19x its 2017 EBITDA, is slightly above analysts’ estimates–a maximum of €10bn. However, GSK’s move has positively surprised stock markets, which had already welcomed the British group pulling out of the race to acquire Pfizer’s expensive consumer health division ($20bn): GSK has been awarded with a rise over 3% (London). Novartis’ shares (Zurich), instead, have increased 1.8%, which demonstrates that investors have approved the strategy adopted by the new CEO Vas Narasimham. Many people believe that Narasimham is now seeking to complete the dismissal of other assets, such as 6% of competitor Roche’s shares, a legacy of former  CEO Daniel Vasella which is currently worth approximately $14bn. Moreover, GSK will complete the spin-off of Alcon and, probably, its listing, over the next 12 months, with a potential minimum income of $25bn.