GSK weighs final bids in OTC drugs sale: sources

Mon Nov 14, 2011 1:49pm EST
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By Ben Hirschler

LONDON (Reuters) - GlaxoSmithKline (GSK.L: Quote) is assessing final bids for a clutch of its non-prescription drugs, keeping the process on track for the selection of a buyer by the end of the year, people familiar with the matter said on Monday.

"The final, second-round bids are in. The deadline was the end of last week," said one source.

Private equity firms have dominated the process, with Bain Capital and Blackstone (BX.N: Quote), which has partnered with Prestige Brands (PBH.N: Quote), seen as the two front-runners.

The private equity bidders are interested in acquiring the portfolio of products up for sale, while a handful of trade buyers have been focused on picking up selected brands.

A spokesman for the British drugmaker declined to comment on latest developments in the auction, which is being handled by Goldman Sachs.

However, GSK Chief Executive Andrew Witty said last month he aimed to conclude the bidding process by the end of December, leaving open the possibility that final completion might occur in the new year.

Reuters reported at the time that GSK aimed to receive second-round bids by mid-November.

Analysts initially said the over-the-counter (OTC) products might raise between 1.5 billion and 2 billion pounds ($2.4-3.2 billion), or three to four times sales -- a cash windfall that GSK could use to underpin share repurchases in 2012.   Continued...