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Panadol and Chapstick firms in mega-merger


European markets were a mixed bag on Tuesday, as crude oil prices plummeted to new lows and investors remained jittery over an expected U.S. interest rate hike. The Stoxx Europe 600 dropped 0.1% to 342.79. France’s CAC 40 slipped 0.1% to 4,732.85 and U.K.’s FTSE 100 declined 0.3% to 6,750.60. Germany’s DAX 30 was up 0.4% to 10,807.69, as it clawed back losses from dip buyers getting back into the action ahead of the Christmas break.

U.S. stocks ended mostly higher on Tuesday in a turbulent session as key equity benchmark indexes tried to break away from their lowest levels since the autumn of 2017. The S&P 500 was mostly unchanged at 2,546. The Dow Jones Industrial Average advanced 0.4%, to 23,678. The Nasdaq Composite finished higher by 0.4% to 6,784.

The painkiller brands Panadol and Anadin will be bought under one roof under a giant deal between drug firms GlaxoSmithKline and Pfizer.

The two firms are combining their consumer healthcare businesses into one firm with annual sales of EUR 10.9 bn.

Other brands involved in the deal include Aquafresh toothpaste and Chapstick lip balm.

The move comes nearly nine months after GSK bought out Swiss firm Novartis’s stake in a similar joint venture.

GSK, which will have 68% of the new business, said the deal was a "compelling opportunity" to build on its earlier buyout and deliver stronger sales.

The merger will have combined sales of EUR 10.9 bn and is expected to take effect in the second half of 2019, subject to regulatory approval.

The joint venture will go by the name of GSK Consumer Healthcare. Apart from GSK’s Nigerian subsidiary, which is excluded from the deal, it will operate in all countries where GSK and Pfizer have a presence.

GSK will have six directors on the board, while Pfizer will have three.

Italy reaches budget agreement with European Union

Italy’s government has reached an accord with the European Union regarding its controversial budget proposal for 2019, which may avert a clash with officials of Europe’s trade bloc, according to reports. Rome’s draft budget proposal earlier this year drew a swift rebuke from Brussels because it would have resulted in a budget deficit of 2.4% of gross domestic product, running afoul of EU membership rules. This led to the EU launching a so-called "excessive deficit procedure" against Italy in November, and caused investors to fret about the health of the eurozone’s third-largest economy and the stability of the EU more broadly.

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