GSK mulls sale of Horlicks in the UK

Horlicks advert in IndiaImage copyright Horlicks

Pharmaceuticals giant GSK is considering selling off its Horlicks business, the BBC understands.

GSK wants to sell the Horlicks business in the UK, where it is marketed as a bedtime drink.

The company wants to keep the Horlicks business in India where it marketed as a nutritional drink to children and has seen strong growth.

A sale would be the first major move by chief executive Emma Walmsley who succeeded Sir Andrew Witty in April.

Earlier this year, when revealing her first set of results as GSK's boss, Ms Walmsley said that she wanted to prioritise GSK's drugs business.

"I want to make that more at the heart of where we spend our leadership time and what we spend our time talking about," she said at the time.

Image copyright Horlicks

The drink Brits go to bed with and Indians wake up with[1]

Pharmaceuticals make up the bulk of GSK's revenue, accounting for £16.1bn of a total £27.8bn in annual sales.

The Horlicks brand, which is more than 100 years old, is housed within the consumer healthcare division, which Ms Walmsley led prior to taking over the top job at GSK, and it generated £7.2bn in sales over 2016.

Although Horlicks is popular in India, GSK noted when it announced its full year figures there had been a general slowing of the health food drink category in the country "which impacted the performance of the nutrition category and Horlicks in particular".

This continued in the first quarter of the year....

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Reckitt Benckiser sells food business to McCormick

Reckitt French's mustardImage copyright Reckitt

The US owner of Schwartz herbs and spices has won the battle to acquire Reckitt Benckiser's food business in a deal worth $4.2bn (£3.2bn).

McCormick &Co saw off competition from consumer giant Unilever and Hormel Foods, the US owner of Spam, to buy the division.

It includes French's mustard as well as Franks' RedHot and Cattlemen's sauces.

The deal will help Reckitt Benckiser pay off debt after buying baby formula maker Mead Johnson for $17.9bn.

The chief executive of Reckitt Benckiser, Rakesh Kapoor, said:"Following the acquisition of Mead Johnson Nutrition, this transaction marks another step towards transforming RB into a global leader in consumer health and hygiene."

Reckitt Benckiser's share price rose by 1.62% to £79.39.

The acquisition will cement McCormick's position in the US sauce and condiments market, which is worth around $21bn a year according to research by IBISWorld.

Lawrence Kurzius, chief executive at McCormick said the deal enables his business "to become a one-stop shop for condiment, spice and seasoning needs."

Last year, McCormick attempted to buy Premier Foods, the maker of Mr Kipling cakes and Bisto gravy.However, it walked away after being unable to offer a high enough price for the business....

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Audi advert criticised in China for being sexist

Screenshot from advertImage copyright Audi

Audi has been criticised for an advert in China, which thousands of internet users have branded sexist.

The ad[1] compares buying a car to finding a wife, saying "an important decision must be made carefully".

It shows a woman having her nose, ears and teeth inspected by her mother-in-law on her wedding day.

An Audi spokesman told the South China Morning Post[2] marketing in China was the responsibility of its local joint venture partner.

Some are calling for a boycott of the German carmaker - which is recognised as one of the big three in China, along with Mercedes Benz and BMW.

One user called it "a terrible ad!" with others branding it "disgusting".

"I will not buy an Audi in this lifetime," one user says, and another calls it "disastrous marketing".

Image copyright Audi

Many said that a male focus group must have decided it was worth running with.

"From the inception of this idea to its broadcasting, was there a single woman who worked on this commercial?", asked one Weibo user.

Because the mother-in-law gives her permission to her son to marry the bride, the advert has also generated debate about contemporary marital values.

It is just the latest commercial to cause a backlash in China.

Last year a Chinese firm apologised over an advert for detergent[3] in which a black man was stuffed head-first into a washing machine before emerging as a light-skinned Asian.

The manufacturer of Qiaobi said it strongly opposed and condemned racial discrimination, and was sorry the advert had caused controversy....


  1. ^ The ad (
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Is WhatsApp being censored in China?

Three men sitting at a table staring at their phonesImage copyright Getty Images

Users of the encrypted messaging service WhatsApp have reported disruptions in China, prompting censorship claims.

Many reported that voice messaging and pictures wouldn't send without a virtual private network (VPN) to circumvent China's censorship filters.

The seemed to be working normally on Wednesday morning, but there have been more interruptions since then.

The disruptions come as China clamps down on online platforms.

What was the disruption?

Users began noticing over the weekend that WhatsApp wouldn't send pictures, voice messages and video, although text messages continued to work normally.

The disruptions continued through Tuesday evening.

Image copyright Stephen McDonell / Twitter Image caption One of the BBC's China-based reporters, Stephen McDonell.was among those finding the app lacking full functionality

The Chinese government hasn't said if it's blocking WhatsApp.

The messaging service hasn't commented either, nor has it told its users there's a technical fault.

The BBC's Beijing bureau has been testing the app every few hours, and while all functions were working normally without a VPN on Wednesday morning, there have seemingly been more interruptions since then.

In its most recent internet censorship report, the free speech advocacy group Freedom House said WhatsApp was blocked in 12 countries, which is more than any other messaging app.

Why would China block WhatsApp?

China is increasing its censorship of online commentary it perceives as politically sensitive, and it's using increasingly sophisticated methods to achieve that goal.

The government is expected to tighten restrictions ahead of the next communist party congress, where President Xi Jinping is tipped to cement his leadership position.

Recently, it blocked social media posts and even private messages and group chats about the death of Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo.

How extensive is online censorship in China?

The government already blocks social media sites and apps, including Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

Search engines like Google are blocked, and access to many foreign media outlets, including the BBC, is restricted.

Other encrypted messaging apps, such as Telegram, are also blocked in China.

The government has also pledged to clamp down on users who try to get around the restrictions, by tightening regulations on VPNs.

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption WhatsApp, which is owned by Facebook, was unavailable for several hours

How popular is WhatsApp in China?

WhatsApp has more than a billion monthly active users globally, as does Facebook's native messenger.

In China, though, WhatsApp is far less popular than local competitors like WeChat, which has over half a billion monthly active users.

The Chinese apps are unencrypted and subject to censorship.

The censorship of search engines, social media and other online services has worked to the benefit Chinese businesses like Tencent, Alibaba and WeChat , who have created their own successful brands with limited foreign competition....

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Grandmother power in Canada's global aid

Friendship bench Image caption Grandmothers in Zimbabwe help with depression on "Friendship Benches", as part of Canada's Grand Challenges

In Zimbabwe, thousands of depression sufferers are being helped by a network of grandmothers trained in talking therapies, who meet their patients on "Friendship Benches" outside health clinics.

In poorly-resourced hospitals in East Africa and India, hundreds of fracture patients are receiving safe, effective bone surgery using ingeniously adapted DIY power-tools.

In Cameroon, parents of pre-term babies are being taught to use skin-to-skin mother-care techniques pioneered in Colombia 25 years ago - but whose amazing long-term benefits have only recently been fully recognised.

The link between these daring and unusual health initiatives is a Toronto-based organisation with big ambitions, Grand Challenges Canada (GCC).

Its remit is to identify health problems in low and middle income countries, and address them by harnessing the creativity of academic, social and business communities in Canada and beyond.

In seven years, with 29 full-time staff, it has already supported around 800 innovative health initiatives, impacting 1.3 million lives.

Image caption A hearing loss project provides low-cost hearing aids

Grand Challenges Canada had its origins in Bill Gates's Grand Challenges project in 2003.

Dr Peter Singer, now chief executive officer of Grand Challenges Canada, was on the advisory board, identifying the biggest global health challenges.

He wrote articles in the Canadian national press arguing that Canada should set up a parallel organisation.To his surprise, the government's finance department agreed, and money was forthcoming, leading to the creation of Grand Challenges Canada (GCC).

Many of the innovations GCC has turned into global life-savers emerged from Canadian universities.

For example, the Arbutus Drill Cover for low-cost bone surgery was developed by engineering students at the University of British Columbia.

An affordable artificial knee joint invented by a professor at the University of Toronto has, with GCC's backing, helped 160 lower-limb amputees in Chile and India, and has the potential to improve 128,000 lives by 2030.

Image caption The way of using DIY drills for surgery was developed at the University of British Columbia

A team at the University of Victoria developed a 3D-printed, body-powered prosthetic hand, a project which has been given the funding to scale up for production in five low-income countries.

It also helped a young former investment banker, Audra Renyi, whose World Wide Hearing (WWH) Foundation supplies low-cost hearing aids to underprivileged hearing loss sufferers around the world.

This is one of many innovations which Dr Singer hopes will also come back to Canada to help its own disadvantaged indigenous people.

"We source widely and scale selectively," he said."About 90% of these 800 ideas are teething innovations.We scale about one in 10.You have to be willing to take on risk, but it needs to be smart risk."

Global education[1]

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This is precisely the approach that has enabled Grand Challenges Canada to punch so well above its weight on the international development scene;a combination of agility, entrepreneurial drive, and a little "Canadian humility" have proved a potent mix.

Dr Karlee Silver, vice president for programmes, said interventions could produce surprising results.

The Kangaroo Mother Care project was well known to be effective 25 years ago, but had only limited impact beyond Colombia since.

"So we funded a 20 year follow-up study, which found those children had larger brains, were earning 50% more," she said.

"It tracked back to an actual change in family dynamics because of the intensity of that bond," she said.

That evidence gave new credence to the idea, and allowed its rapid spread, again with GCC support - into Africa.

Image caption The project on hearing is helping communities in Guatemala

Similarly, the Friendship Bench scheme in Zimbabwe emerged from a member of GCC's global network of innovators, Dr Dixon Chibanda, a psychiatrist based in Harare, and one of only 25 mental health professionals in a nation where problems such as depression were barely recognised.

Until GCC funded a study, which showed Dr Chibanda's technique of training grandmothers to deliver cognitive behaviour therapy outside clinics was having more than three times the impact in treating depression, anxiety and suicidal tendencies than any other treatments offered.

As a result, the Zimbabwean government is now backing the scheme, to extend it to 72 clinics around the country.

"The impact is even broader," Dr Singer added."Dixon has demonstrated that you don't have to ignore mental health - you can address it in an affordable way."

Image caption The projects have so far reached 1.3 million people in developing countries

"At end of the day this is human interest.The one girl with depression in Harare who would be suffering terribly but for Dixon's Friendship Bench… multiply her by 25 million and that's what we hope to achieve by 2030."

That figure is based on conservative statistical projections which suggest Grand Challenges Canada's activities will save between 520,000 and 1.6 million lives, and improve between 15 million and 42 million lives, in that timeframe.

"We're an innovation platform that has spent seven years testing and refining itself in global health," Dr Singer says.

"But keep in mind that it takes five to 15 years for an innovation to be effective.We're only seven years old, we're at the very beginning of that curve of uptake."

Image caption Peter Singer says such innovation is an important part of Canada's foreign policy

"Innovation is a very significant part of Canada's approach to development and foreign policy," said Dr Singer.

In a changing world, with a rise in nationalism and inward-looking governments, he also sees Grand Challenges Canada as a standard-bearer for "small 'l' liberal" values.

"The right to empowerment if you're a girl, the equality of opportunity to achieve your potential in first few months of life, global connectedness… scientific enlightenment even," said Dr Singer.

"I see us as a counterpoint to some of the worrying trends.We live in a factual world.Everything we do is evidence-based.It's not a post-truth world."...


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