GlaxoSmithKline sells chunk of shares in Aspen: statement

LONDON (AFP) - British drugs firm GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) announced on Wednesday that it will sell one third of its shareholding in South African company Aspen for £425 million (S$851 million).

"GSK has agreed to the sale of 28.2 million ordinary shares in Aspen Pharmacare Holdings Ltd" via a placing of shares to institutional investors, it said in a statement.

"Following settlement of the sale, GSK will hold 56.5 million ordinary shares in Aspen, representing 12.4 per cent of the issued share capital." GSK, which had signalled its intention to sell part of its Aspen holding on Tuesday, added that it would remain a key shareholder.

"The close relationship between GSK and Aspen will not be affected by this transaction," it said.

"GSK will retain a seat on Aspen's board and intends to remain a significant shareholder of Aspen.

"GSK has undertaken not to dispose of any further shares in Aspen for a period of six months following completion, subject to certain limited exceptions." Late in September, GSK had sold two thrombosis brands and its Notre-Dame de Bondeville manufacturing site in France to Aspen for £700 million.