GlaxoSmithKline offloads $842 million Aspen stake for new initiative
GlaxoSmithKline Plc sold half its stake in Aspen Pharmacare Holdings Ltd. of South Africa for 10.5 billion rand ($842 million) to invest in new priorities as the U.K.’s largest drugmaker reorganizes.
Glaxo sold about 28.2 million shares in Africa’s largest pharmaceutical manufacturer through institutional investors for 372 rand a share, Johannesburg-based Aspen said in a statement on Friday.
That’s almost eight times their value when they were issued to Glaxo six years ago. Aspen stock fell as much as 6 percent, the most since June. Glaxo is reorganizing amid a slump in sales and profit as its best-selling product, the asthma drug Advair, faces increased competition in the U.S.
The company completed a deal with Novartis AG last year to sell its oncology franchise and acquire the Swiss drugmaker’s vaccines business. Glaxo sold the same number of Aspen shares in November 2013, raising about 7 billion rand.
Its stake is now about 6.2 percent. The company can’t sell more shares for at least 180 days, Glaxo said. “Our investment in the company has grown in value significantly over time,” Glaxo Chief Financial Officer Simon Dingemans said in a statement on Thursday.
“As we continue to reshape the group around our core franchises and drive the benefits from the Novartis transaction, optimizing our financial flexibility to invest behind these priorities is key.”
Aspen issued shares to Glaxo in May 2009 in return for the rights to to distribute the London-based drugmaker’s products in South Africa and as part of an agreement to market and sell medicines in sub-Saharan Africa. The stock traded at 48 rand that day, compared with Friday’s selling price of 372 rand.
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