Unilever refuses to raise £50bn offer to buy out GSK

By Becky Bargh 20-Jan-2022

Demands for a £60bn takeover have been discounted by the cosmetics conglomerate

Unilever acquired premium skin care brand Paula's Choice in 2021

Unilever has refused to get into a negotiation battle with GSK after the beauty owner said it would not raise its £50bn offer for the healthcare group.

Last week, it was revealed that the personal care conglomerate had made a third proposal for a takeover deal, comprising £41.7bn in cash and £8.3bn in Unilever shares, but was rebuffed by the company.

GSK said that the offer “fundamentally undervalued” the business and its future prospects.

The oral care owner, which formed a joint venture with healthcare group Pfizer in 2019, was thought to be holding out for a £60bn deal – if Unilever was going to stand any chance of adding the group to its portfolio.

But in a statement released on 19 January, Unilever stood firm by its offer.

“Unilever is committed to maintaining strict financial discipline to ensure that acquisitions create value for our shareholders,” the announcement read.

“Unilever also reiterates its commitment to continuing to improve the performance of its existing portfolio through its ongoing focus on operational excellence, its upcoming reorganisation and by rotating the portfolio to higher growth categories.”

To that end, Unilever has committed to heavily investing in its prestige beauty category in the coming years.

Vasiliki Petrou, VP and Group CEO for Unilever Prestige, is thought to be the driving force behind the new direction, which will see the category build to become a €3bn business.

Digital commerce, acquisitions and further expansions are expected to be on the table for the company’s prestige portfolio.

Currently, it is made up of nine brands, including Murad, Ren Clean Skincare and Hourglass Cosmetics.

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Its latest buyout was in 2021 with the takeover of Paula’s Choice, but more acquisitions could be on the cards in 2022.

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