Kellogg and Reckitt Benckiser join race for GSK nutrition unit

By Nathan Gray

- Last updated on GMT

iStock / macgyverhh
iStock / macgyverhh

Related tags functional beverage beverage

Reckitt Benckiser and Kellogg are said to have joined the race to purchase GSK consumer nutrition business – with Nestlé, Unilever, Mondelēz and Coca-Cola already reportedly interested in the business.

As reported by Seeking Alpha, both Kellogg and Reckitt have completed initial evaluations of the GlaxoSmithKline business unit – which includes the Horlicks brand among its nutritional portfolio.

Other major players said to be looking at acquiring the Horlicks brand include Unilever, Nestlé, Coca-Cola and Mondelēz.

Earlier this year GSK said​ it could look to divest some – or all – of its nutrition portfolio to help fund a €10.5 billion acquisition of Novartis’ stake in their consumer-health joint venture.

GSK and Novartis formed the consumer health group in 2014 as part of an asset exchange that combined over-the-counter (OTC) drugs and nutritional supplements into one joint venture and saw Novartis acquire GSK’s portfolio of cancer drugs. In March this year, Novartis said the ‘time is right’​ for it to sell its 36.5% stake in the joint-venture to GSK – for a reported $13bn (€10.5bn).

Horlicks: At the centre of the deal

Central to any deal for GSK’s consumer nutrition portfolio will be the chance to acquire globally recognised malted beverage brand Horlicks – which is said to be of key interest and a good fit for several global FMCG companies including Coca-Cola, Kellogg’s, Nestlé and Unilever.

At the time of announcing its strategic review in March, GSK noted that the majority of Horlicks sales come from India, where the drinks range is seen as a healthy and premium nutrition product.

“GSK expects the outcome of the strategic review to be concluded around the end of 2018. There can be no assurance that the review process will result in any transaction,”​ the company added.

Meanwhile, if a deal went ahead with Reckitt Benckiser, the Horlicks brand may venture into pharmacy channels with the company rumoured to be looking to reshape the brand beyond just a malt-based drink.

For Kellogg, the move could help it expand into the beverages category, but may also bring opportunities in other segments like snacking and biscuits, sources told the Economic Times​.

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