Unilever has spent about $30 billion to acquire 50 brands over the past decade and GSK is the proverbial cherry on the cake, said chief executive officer Paul Polman, adding that the company needs to leverage the acquired brands as major growth pillars of the future.
He was speaking at the final leg of a two-day annual investor conference held in Mumbai. on Monday, Hindustan UnileverNSE 2.24 %, the local unit of the Anglo-Dutch consumer company, announced a deal to merge GlaxoSmithKlineNSE 1.94 % with itself in a deal valued at Rs 31,700 crore in an effort to scale its food and beverages business, which accounts for less than a fifth of its sales.
In comparison, parent Unilever gets more than 41% of its revenue from the foods and refreshment business. “Our strength in the emerging markets is one of our competitive advantages and it is no coincidence that we are here in India, nearly at the same time as we are acquiring one of the stronger brands in India, which is Horlicks. The strength of India is basically what the future of Unilever is,” Polman said.
The optimism from Polman, who has been credited with turning around Unilever after taking over in 2009, comes against a backdrop of recovery in India’s consumer demand over the past few quarters. The maker of Knorr soup and Dove shampoo is witnessing year-on-year improvement in several emerging markets, most notably India, where consumption continues to pick up.