UK-based pharmaceutical group GlaxoSmithKline is reported to have started a process to sell sports nutrition arm MaxiNutrition.

GSK is working on a possible sale of MaxiNutrition with professional services giant EY, Sky News reported.

Approached by just-food to confirm if GSK was looking to offload the unit and had hired EY, a spokesperson for the drugs giant said: “I’m afraid this isn’t something we can comment on.”

A spokesperson for EY said: “For confidentiality reasons, we are not able to comment on specific client engagements or whether or not client relationships exist.”

GSK acquired MaxiNutrition, which houses brands including Maximuscle, from UK private-equity firm Darwin Private Equity in 2010.

At the time, John Clarke, then president of GSK’s consumer healthcare business, said: “This deal will give GSK a strong presence in the fast developing protein-based sports nutrition market. GSK will invest behind Maxinutrition’s science-proven products to extend the growth of Maxinutrition within its UK and European footprint and expand to the global marketplace, where GSK has existing infrastructure and capabilities.”

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The UK sports nutrition sector has seen a number of deals this year. In April, Associated British Foods snapped up two firms H5 Ltd and Reflex Nutrition. In March, private-equity firm Lion Capital bought a majority stake in UK-based sports nutrition start-up Grenade Holdings.

Two months earlier, UK private-label supplier and Ginsters pasties owner Samworth Brothers entered the country’s sports nutrition market through the acquisition of local firm SCI-MX.