GlaxoSmithKline to acquire Stiefel for $3.6 billion

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British pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline said Monday it will buy American skincare group Stiefel Laboratories in a deal worth up to $3.6 billion.

In a statement, the two companies said the transaction would create a new world-leading specialist dermatology business with combined revenues of $1.5 billion.

Stiefel makes acne treatments and other skin creams, lotions, washes and vitamins. Its leading products include Duac for acne, Olux E for dermatitis and Soriatane for severe psoriasis.

GSK is paying $2.9 billion in cash and will assume $400 million of Stiefel’s net debt. A further $300 million cash payment will be made depending on future performance.

“This puts them in the No. 1 slot in dermatology,” Royal Bank of Scotland analyst Michael Leacock said in an interview. “It’s a modest deal, only 3 percent of Glaxo’s sales, but very much in line with a clear strategic objective. It’s a strong move in the right direction.”

The deal marks the latest round of consolidation among pharmaceutical companies, who have sought to obtain product lines in the face of pressure from rivals making cheaper generics.

Already this year, Pfizer has agreed to acquire Wyeth for $68 billion and Merck has agreed to buy Schering-Plough for $41 billion.