India is increasingly a hotbed for commerce, and that trend continues with Nestle, Unilever and Coca-Cola reportedly each bidding for GlaxoSmithKline’s nutritional business, Horlicks of India.
According to Reuters, Horlicks will cost more than $4 billion and “initial bids were due on Monday and the three consumer goods giants are seen as frontrunners for a business that offers a significant footprint in a fast-growing emerging market.”
The business in question produces a “malt-based drink” that dates back to 1873, when India was part of the British Empire, with Queen Victoria the monarch. “Two British-born men, James and William Horlick, founded a company in Chicago to manufacture it. It was taken to India by soldiers who had fought with the British Army in the First World War,” the report said.
Now, according to Reuters, “GSK’s CEO Emma Walmsley, who took over last year, is looking to sharpen the focus of what is one of the world’s more diversified pharmaceuticals companies. The main asset on the block is GSK’s 72.5 percent stake in its Indian subsidiary, GlaxoSmithKline Consumer Healthcare, which is famous for Horlicks but also makes [other] products, including the chocolate-flavored malt-based drink Boost.”
GSK sold its “much smaller U.K. Horlicks” business to Aimia Foods earlier in 2018.
Payments and commerce competition in India is quickly heating up in 2018, with Google the latest company to make a major play there as it eyes further expansion in Asia. Additionally, China-based Alibaba reportedly wants to build a “a mega Indian retail joint venture” with an investment of “at least $5 billion,” with billionaire Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Retail. Amazon and Walmart-owned Flipkart continue to win digital business from India’s increasingly connected consumers.