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GSK drops out of race for Pfizer's $20B consumer healthcare arm

GlaxoSmithKline Plc said it pulled out from the bidding battle to acquire Pfizer Inc.'s consumer healthcare business valued at $20 billion.

"While we will continue to review opportunities that may accelerate our strategy, they must meet our criteria for returns and not compromise our priorities for capital allocation," GSK CEO Emma Walmsley said in a news release.

According to recent reports, the British drugmaker was leading the auction for the Pfizer division, which sells branded over-the-counter products. Reckitt Benckiser Group Plc, which was only looking to acquire part of the business, also withdrew from the sale process.

GlaxoSmithKline shares were up 3.72% to £13.21 apiece as of 8:10 a.m. London time March 23.