GSK faces questions over Haleon’s ‘lower’ valuation

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Haleon, the home of everything from Sensodyne and Aquafresh toothpastes to Panadol painkillers, became London’s biggest listing for a decade yesterday.

Its shares opened at 330p, giving the group a valuation of £30.5billion but closed down 6.5 percent at 308p.

The capitalisation was well short of what rival Unilever offered last year.

Even accounting for roughly £10billion in new debt, it is worth less than the £50billion the Marmite and Dove soap maker was willing to shell out.

GSK, formerly GLAXOSMITHKLINE, rebuffed the offer, saying it was too low.

Analyst Danni Hewson, from City firm AJ Bell, said: “Investors might be wondering why GSK didn’t accept the much higher bid from Unilever.”

Neither GSK nor Haleon commented on the valuation yesterday.

But a GSK source stressed that Unilever’s offer also included a premium and an estimate for cost savings. “It is like comparing apples and pears,” they said, referring to Haleon’s valuation now.

Investors said it was difficult to draw conclusions before several days of trading. Shares in Haleon – pronounced “Hay-Lee-On” – will begin properly trading in New York on Friday.

Boss Brian McNamara said: “Consumer health has never been more important than it is today. I am delighted that Haleon, as an independent company, is ready to pursue our ambitions.”

GSK announced the spin-off last year after investors pressured boss Emma Walmsley to focus on the giant’s core drug-making.

known brands Haleon was created as a joint venture by GSK and Pfizer, the American drugs powerhouse, in December 2018.

Haleon says it will churn out 1.6 billion tubes of toothpaste a year and about 55 billion tablets.

Separately, it announced that all employees will be entitled to 26 weeks fully paid parental leave.

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