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Pfizer Eyes IPO of Glaxo Consumer Venture in 3 to 4 Years

Mark Schoifet

(Bloomberg) -- Pfizer Inc. is planning an initial public offering of its consumer-health joint venture with GlaxoSmithKline Plc in three to four years as the two drugmakers turn back toward the lab.

Pfizer Chief Executive Officer Albert Bourla discussed the time frame for the IPO at the J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference in San Francisco on Tuesday. The plan provides New York-based Pfizer with a clear exit strategy, he said.

The world’s biggest supplier of over-the-counter medicines will be one of the industry’s only standalones, facing off with companies integrated into larger entities such as Johnson & Johnson, Bayer AG and Procter & Gamble Co.

With annual sales of about $13 billion, it brings under one roof Advil painkillers, Tums stomach tablets, Sensodyne toothpaste and Nicorette gum.

Both Glaxo, the majority owner, and Pfizer, which has about a third of the business, are looking to focus on drug development. Recent shifts in the health-care business and in the broader economy have challenged a model in which drugmakers control every corner of home medicine cabinets.

Big pharma companies are increasingly focused on developing high-priced new medicines that draw on cutting-edge research in genetics and other fields. At the same time, the cost of researching new cures is climbing even as insurers and governments demand lower prices.

On the consumer-health front, intense price competition online from the likes of Amazon as well as own-brand store products have dented margins in the U.S. and parts of Europe.

When the deal was announced, Glaxo said it expected a listing within three years of its close, which took place last August.

Glaxo shares rose less than 1% to 1,815 pence in London trading.

(Updates with industry context in third and fourth paragraphs)

To contact the reporter on this story: Mark Schoifet in New York at mschoifet@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Drew Armstrong at darmstrong17@bloomberg.net, Marthe Fourcade

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