Pharmaceuticals giant GlaxoSmithKline has confirmed it wants to offload its MaxiNutrition arm in the UK and it is understood talks with a potential buyer or buyers are set to start imminently.

GSK’s intention to sell its sports nutrition business, which houses the Maximuscle brand, emerged last month, although the company would not confirm its plans at that stage.

In an update on its manufacturing network released on Wednesday (19 July), GSK, which is perhaps best known for consumer healthcare, confirmed that it intends to sell the MaxiNutrition brand and it said it is also exploring options to divest some other smaller non-core nutrition brands.

The statement also contained the news it is selling off its well-known bedtime drink brand Horlicks and closing UK factories in Slough and Worthing.

GSK, which employs 17,000 people in the UK, revealed the combined annual sales of Horlicks and MaxiNutrition are around GBP30m (US$39m).

A spokesperson for GSK said that while nothing has yet been signed there is interest in acquiring MaxiNutrition and it will be starting discussions imminently which could lead to a deal being struck.

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GSK bought Maxinutrition from UK private-equity firm Darwin in 2010.

It is understood that GSK is keen to shed what it sees as non-core assets so it can concentrate on its main areas of business.

The company plans to invest more than GBP140m in three UK sites between now and 2020 to support the expansion of manufacturing for respirators and HIV medicines.

The UK sports nutrition sector has seen a number of deals this year including Associated British Foods buying H5 and Reflex Nutrition.