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GlaxoSmithKline to divest $740 million stake in South Africa's Aspen

Signage is pictured on the company headquarters of GlaxoSmithKline in west London July 21, 2008. GlaxoSmithKline announce their half yearly
Signage is pictured on the company headquarters of GlaxoSmithKline in west London July 21, 2008. GlaxoSmithKline announce their half yearly

LONDON (Reuters) - GlaxoSmithKline said on Tuesday it planned to reduce its investment in South African drugmaker Aspen Pharmacare by one third, although it would retain a board seat and a significant shareholding.

The sale of up to 28.2 million shares could realize some 7.54 billion rand ($741 million), based on current market prices.

Britain's biggest drugmaker intends to offload around 6 percent of Aspen's issued share capital through a placing with institutional investors, leaving it with a stake of approximately 13 percent.

It first bought into in Aspen in 2009, since when Africa's biggest maker of generic drugs has expanded substantially through a string of deals.

"GSK has a long and successful partnership with Aspen - and our investment in the company has grown in value significantly over time," GSK's head of strategy David Redfern said in a statement.

"Having assessed this investment we have now decided to realize some of this value without altering the basis of the partnership. We remain committed to working closely with Aspen as shown by our remaining stake in the company and our board seat."

GSK, which said it would use the money for general corporate purposes, has undertaken not to dispose of any further shares in Aspen for a period of six months following the sale.

Citigroup Global Markets and UBS will act as joint bookrunners for the share placing. GSK said the net profit on the disposal would not be included in core operating profit and core earnings per share in 2013. ($1 = 10.1738 South African rand)

(Reporting by Ben Hirschler; editing by Christine Murray and Tom Pfeiffer)

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