GSK Shares Climb as Board Is Said to Mull Breakup of Pharma Giant

GlaxoSmithKline plc's (GSK) American depository receipts surged on Friday, July 20, following a Financial Times report that the pharmaceutical giant's chairman Philip Roy Hampton is mulling a breakup of the firm.

Hampton is considering a split-up after some of the company's large shareholders urged the board to think about spinning off the consumer unit, the report stated. The publication added that Hampton has talked to some shareholders about creating a standalone pharmaceutical and vaccines firm in the medium term.

GSK's ADRs jumped as much as 4% to $42.32 on the heels of the report and ended the trading session at $41.87, up 2.9%.

In June, GSK completed its purchase of Novartis AG's (NVS) 36.5% stake in their consumer healthcare joint venture for $13 billion.

GSK spokeswoman Sarah Spencer said in an emailed statement that the company's top priority is improving performance in its pharmaceutical unit, particularly pharma research and development, adding that the firm will set out its new R&D approach next week.

"We believe the 3 business structure of the Group offers significant opportunities in the current healthcare environment and provides the Group with more stability to our earnings and helps in free cash flow generation," Spencer said. "But as we have consistently said this is subject to each business continuing to perform competitively and having access to capital."

She added, "We are pleased to have completed the buyout of the Consumer Healthcare business for which we see very good potential for growth and have set an increased margin target for that business to achieve by 2022."

The FT report came after GSK peer Pfizer Inc. (PFE) said on July 11 it was continuing to review strategic options for its consumer healthcare business.

More from Markets

Market Movers: December FOMC Meeting

Market Movers: December FOMC Meeting

Government Shutdown Won't Hurt Stocks Much, History Says

Government Shutdown Won't Hurt Stocks Much, History Says

Dow Soars on Signs of Progress in U.S.-China Trade Discussions

Dow Soars on Signs of Progress in U.S.-China Trade Discussions

Jim Cramer: Here's Why the Market Rallied

Jim Cramer: Here's Why the Market Rallied

Is It Safe?

Is It Safe?