Nestle, Kraft Heinz and Coca-Cola are reportedly among the companies to have held early talks on a possible move to buy the food and drinks brand Horlicks, owned by UK-based pharmaceutical group GlaxoSmithKline.

Citing unnamed sources, UK newspaper The Sunday Telegraph said yesterday (17 June) the three businesses were among a clutch of potential bidders for Horlicks.

In March, GSK said it was reviewing its options over its portfolio of consumer healthcare nutrition products.

Central to the assets under review is GSK’s 72.5% stake in Indian arm GlaxoSmithKline Consumer Healthcare. The UK-based pharma group said the majority of the annual sales made from Horlicks and the other nutrition products – which stood at around GBP550m (US$728.2m) in 2017 – are made in India.

Last year, UK business Aimia Foods became the owner of the Horlicks brand in the UK, Ireland and continental Europe.

GSK markets products including biscuits under Horlicks in India, as well as the malt-based drinks for which the brand is best-known.

The Horlicks range on sale in India also includes beverage products to aid growth in children, as well as drinks to support expecting and pregnant women.

GSK’s range of consumer healthcare nutrition products on sale in India also include hot cereal marketed under the Horlicks brand, Boost biscuits and Foodles noodles, a line developed with Japan’s Nissin Foods Holdings.

The company said in March: “GSK expects the outcome of the strategic review to be concluded around the end of 2018. There can be no assurance that the review process will result in any transaction.”

At the time, Reuters reported Nestle had informed GSK in the past about its interest in Horlicks.

Nestle declined to comment when approached by just-food this morning. Kraft Heinz and Coca-Cola could not be reached for comment.