Glaxo investing more in India and Nigeria units

GlaxoSmithKline, headquartered in Philadelphia, employs 4,000 people in Montgomery County.

Drugmaker GlaxoSmith Kline said it will raise its stake in its consumer healthcare subsidiaries in India and Nigeria at a cost of more than $1 billion.

Glaxo CEO Andrew Witty, who worked around the world before taking his current post, has often spoken of moving the company away from strictly selling "white pills in Western markets," and this move continues that trend.

Glaxo is also among the pharmaceutical companies that also view consumer sales as a way to diversify away from prescription medicines.

India is on track to surpass China as the world's most populous country. Nigeria has the largest population of any African nation, with a population of about 167 million, according to the United Nations.

The move will raise Glaxo's stake in the Indian subsidiary to the Indian legal limit of 75 percent.

Glaxo's consumer unit sells a product called Horlicks, which is a malted milk drink famous in the U.K. Glaxo is based in London and has multiple units in Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

“GSK Consumer Healthcare is a well established business in India and its leading product, Horlicks, is an iconic household brand," David Redfern, Glaxo's chief strategy officer, said in a statement. "This transaction represents a further step in GSK's strategy to invest in the world's fastest growing markets and, we believe, offers a liquidity opportunity at an attractive premium for existing shareholders."