Unilever defends £50bn approach for GSK’s consumer healthcare arm

Consumer goods group Unilever has indicated that it will continue to pursue a mega-merger with the health products business of GlaxoSmithKline (GSK).

GSK has already said that it is looking to divest the healthcare operation. However, it has so far rejected three offers from Unilever, including the latest £50bn approach.

The business — in which Pfizer holds a 32% stake — includes brands such as Aquafresh and Sensodyne toothpaste, Panadol pain relief and Centrum vitamins.

GSK said at the weekend that the offers from Unilever “fundamentally undervalued” the business and its prospects.

Unilever is looking to expand further into the health, beauty and hygiene sectors, and said on Monday that a deal would be a “strong strategic fit”.

Highlighting potential synergies in the oral care and vitamin supplements business, Unilever added: “The acquisition would create scale and a growth platform for the combined portfolio in the US, China and India, with further opportunities in other emerging markets.”

GSK’s share price rose by 5% on Monday morning, while Unilever’s shares were down 6%.