By PETER EGWUATU
The controversy over the acquisition of GSK Nigeria Plc by its parent company, GSK UK through a special arrangement has been put to rest as an option has been given to it to buy the shares of the company through the secondary market of the Nigerian Stock Exchange, NSE.
Chairman of GSK Nigeria, Chief Olusegun Osunkeye, disclosed to Vanguard during a chart in Lagos, saying, “following the suspension of the initial scheme of acquisition by GSK UK to increase its stake in Nigeria, the foreign partner can now increase its stake in Nigeria by going through the floor of the NSE just like other investors interested in increasing their stakes in the company.”
Glaxo Smithkline UK, said it wanted to support its Nigeria arm to improve its facility, but it added that in order to do this on a continuous basis it (GSK UK) would like to increase its shareholding in (GSK) Nigeria from 46.4 per cent to 80 per cent. But the price to exit became an issue as Nigerian shareholders insisted that the current price at the stock market be prevailed rather the initial proposed price of N48.
Osunkeye, also disclosed that GSK Nigeria will continue to bottle and distribute Lucozade and Ribena despite the global divestment of the brands from the Group’s GSK to Suntory Beverage & Food Ltd (SBF), a Japanese firm.
According to him: “Under the new arrangement we had with the Group, we told them that GSK Nigeria will continue to carry on with Lucozade and Ribena business for SBF following the completion of the deal worth $2.1 billion.
Our company in Nigeria has phenomenal access and experience in carrying Lucozade and Ribena production. We do have the medium- to long-term plan to continue to bottle and distribute the brands. That arrangement is in place so the shareholders in Nigeria will continue to benefit from the value created around those brands and Nigeria and consumers will continue to have access to those brands”
Suntory Beverage & Food Ltd (SBF) is a leading global soft drink company with headquarters in Japan and the company is listed on the Tokyo Stock Exchange, with an integrated platform across four key regions: Japan, Europe, Oceania and Southeast Asia. SBF has an extensive product line-up and in 2012 was the number 4 supplier of soft drinks globally and 2nd in Japan.
It would be recalled that Lucozade and Ribena accounted for over half of GSK Nigeria’s sales and operating profit in 2012. Last year, GSK Nigeria’s sales of these brands grew by 26 percent.