March 23, 2018 / 8:18 AM / a year ago

UPDATE 1-GSK pulls out of $20 bln race for Pfizer assets

(Adds share price move, Pfizer unavailable)

LONDON, March 23 (Reuters) - GlaxoSmithKline has withdrawn from the race to buy Pfizer's consumer healthcare business, the British drugs company said on Friday, endangering an auction for an asset some said could fetch as much as $20 billion.

GSK was seen as the front runner to buy the assets, which include Advil painkillers and Centrum vitamins, after main rival Reckitt Benckiser quit the race on Thursday.

"While we will continue to review opportunities that may accelerate our strategy, they must meet our criteria for returns and not compromise our priorities for capital allocation," Chief Executive Emma Walmsley said in a brief statement.

GSK shares jumped 4 percent to 13.23 pounds at 0809 GMT.

A Pfizer representative was not immediately available to comment. (Reporting by Paul Sandle and Martinne Geller Editing by David Goodman)

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