Glaxo hit by US sales decline as profits halve

But HIV drug portfolio saw sales increase up 15 per cent in 2014

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The Independent Online

GlaxoSmithKline , Britain’s biggest drug maker, saw operating profit almost halve to £3.6 billion last year after poorer US sales.

Drug and vaccine sales grew in emerging markets and Japan but that couldn’t offset the 10 per cent decline in the US, which is the world’s biggest market for pharmaceuticals, or flat sales in Europe. Sales in China, where Glaxo was hit by an embarrassing bribery scandal and fined nearly $500 million, fell by 1 per cent last year “as a result of the government investigation”, Brentford-based GSK said.

Glaxo’s chief executive Sir Andrew Witty flagged up HIV drug portfolio, ViiV Healthcare, one of the Big Pharma firm’s best-performers with sales up 15 per cent in 2014.

Glaxo is reported to have hired bankers from Citigroup, Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley to start work on what could be the biggest initial public offering in the pharmaceuticals industry with a part-float of ViiV; GSK owns almost 80 per cent of the division, whilst the rest is held by US giant Pfizer and Shionogi of Japan.

Today Witty said: “We continue to evaluate options for a potential IPO of a minority stake in this business” and promised an update in the second quarter of the year.”

The dividend was set at 80p, up 3 per cent, and Glaxo said it expects to offer the same to shareholders for 2015. It’s returning £4 billion to investors from its £11 billion asset-swap of cancer and vaccines divisions with Switzerland’s Novartis.