India: Unilever acquires Health Food Drinks portfolio of GlaxoSmithKline

Unilever today announced it has signed an agreement to acquire for €3.3 billion the Health Food Drinks portfolio of GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) in India, Bangladesh and 20 other predominantly Asian markets. As part of the deal Unilever buys a 82% stake in GSK Bangladesh and certain other commercial operations and assets outside India and merges Hindustan Unilever with GSK Consumer Healthcare.

GSK is the undisputed leader in the Health Food Drinks category in India, with iconic brands such as Horlicks and Boost, and a product portfolio supported by strong nutritional claims. This portfolio has a long history in India with Horlicks having originally been introduced in the 1930s. Horlicks, a malted milk hot drink, has been an everyday staple in South Asian households across generations.Like Horlick, also Boost, a chocolate flavored malt-based food drink has grown at a double-digit rate. Despite this, the category still remains under-penetrated in India. Other drinks covered by the deal are Viva and Maltova.

In 2018, the Health Food Drinks portfolio of GSK delivered total turnover of c.€550m, primarily through the Horlicks and Boost brands. Almost 90% of the turnover is in India. The transaction is aligned with Unilever’s stated strategy of increasing its presence in health-food categories and in high-growth emerging markets.

Coca Cola was also said to be interested in GSK’s Health Food Drinks portfolio, namely the Horlicks brand. (, 20.9.2018)

The Boards of Hindustan Unilever and GSK Consumer Healthcare have already approved the merger. However, the shareholders and creditors of both involved companies still need to give their consent.  The transaction is also subject to certain other conditions including the receipt of anti-trust clearances in India, the approval of the merger by the relevant National Company Law Tribunals and certain other customary closing conditions.

Completion of the transaction is expected by the end of 2019.

Emma Walmsley, Chief Executive Officer, GSK, said: “Horlicks has made a significant contribution to GSK and to the health of consumers across India for many decades and we believe Unilever is well placed to maximise its future potential. Proceeds from this transaction will be used to support the Group’s strategic priorities, including investing in our pharmaceutical business.”

Nitin Paranjpe, President, Food & Refreshment, Unilever, said: “We are delighted to be acquiring the GSK Health Food Drinks portfolio. The iconic Horlicks brand has a deep heritage, credibility and resonance around the world. The acquisition is transformative for our Foods and Refreshment business allowing us to enter the Health Foods Drinks category, further strengthening our position in health and wellness. It is rare to be able to acquire brands with such leading market positions and fantastic consumer equity in one of the world’s most exciting and fast-growing markets. Improving the health and wellbeing of 1 billion people by 2020 is a key pillar in our Unilever Sustainable Living Plan. Horlicks and Boost will add to our stable of purpose driven brands that help consumers to get more out of their lives.”

Sanjiv Mehta, Chairman and CEO, Hindustan Unilever said: “With this strategic merger of Hindustan Unilever and GSK Consumer Healthcare India Limited, we will be expanding our portfolio through great brands into a new category catering to the nutritional needs of our consumers. I am confident that this merger will create significant shareholder value through both revenue and cost synergies. The turnover of our Foods & Refreshments business will now exceed Rs. 100bn and we will become one of the largest F&R businesses in the country. We look forward to welcoming new brands and great talent into the Unilever and HUL family, once the transaction is complete.”

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