GlaxoSmithKline shareholders back Novartis transaction

GlaxoSmithKline shareholders passed by "an overwhelming majority" the previously announced transaction with Novartis, which is expected to close during the first half of 2015, the UK drugmaker reported Thursday. Specifically, approximately 99.8 percent of voted shares were tendered in favour of the agreement.

Under the agreed terms, GlaxoSmithKline will buy Novartis' vaccine unit for $7.1 billion plus royalties, with the Swiss company acquiring the former's oncology assets for $14.5 billion, as well as up to $1.5 billion in milestone payments. In addition, the companies will create a consumer health joint venture.

Regulatory authorities in the US granted clearance of the transaction last month after Novartis agreed to divest the nicotine patch Habitrol. Meanwhile, European authorities are expected to render a decision on the asset swap by January 14.

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