5,000 staff await partnership plans

5,000 staff await partnership plans

Pharmaceutical companies GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) and Pfizer have said that it is too early to say what the implications are for their Irish staff after a partnership between the firms to create a €10.85bn consumer health division.

GSK plans to split into two businesses, one for prescription drugs and vaccines, the other for over-the-counter products, after forming the joint venture with Pfizer’s consumer health division.

It will lead to the creation of a consumer health company with a market share of 7.3% which is well ahead of its nearest rivals Johnson & Johnson, Bayer and Sanofi, all on around 4%.

GSK and Pfizer will combine their consumer health businesses, with sales of £9.8bn (€10.85bn) and 68%-owned by the British company, in an all-equity transaction.

GSK employs 1,700 people in Dungarvan, Cork, Dublin and Sligo, with 90% of the world’s Panadol produced in the Waterford site. GSK also produces Voltorol, Sensodyne and Corsodyl in its consumer health division.

GSK announced in August that it was to close its Sligo site by 2021, where it manufactures skincare products, with the loss of 165 jobs.

However, staff are said to be confident its Dungarvan facility will form a major part of the new venture’s operations in the future.

GSK’s Cork staff will be unaffected by the deal, as it forms part of the firm’s pharmaceutical division.

A spokeswoman for GSK said: “Subject to approvals, we would expect to close the deal in the second half of 2019. The separation is expected to take place within three years of this so we will have a lot of time to understand the implications, if any, for our sites in Ireland.

“Until then, it is very much business as usual and we will continue to keep our employees informed over the coming months and years as things progress.”

Pfizer also said the impact locally could not be gauged until the deal went through.

A spokeswoman said: “It’s too early to comment on whether there will be any local impact as the closing of this transaction between Pfizer and GSK is subject to customary closing conditions, including required antitrust [competition] approvals and receipt of cost shareholder approval.”

For Pfizer, the deal resolves the issue of what to do with its consumer health division, which includes after an abortive attempt to sell it outright earlier this year.

The firm is one of Ireland’s largest private employers, with a workforce of more than 3,200 in six locations, including 600 in Ringaskiddy in Cork, from where it exports bulk pharmaceuticals, the active ingredients in its medications for humans and animals.

However, no consumer products, which include Advil painkillers and Centrum vitamins, are manufactured at its Irish plants.

Shares in GSK rose more than 3.75%, while Pfizer shares rose 0.75%.

Additional reporting Reuters

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