GlaxoSmithKline has had a change of heart about divesting to sell a portfolio of older drugs marketed in North America and Europe.

Earlier this year, the company announced it was considering the sale of around 50 brands, with the figure of £3.00 billion being bandied around. These would have included the antiulcerant Zantac (ranitidine) and the migraine treatment Imitrex (sumatriptan), although GSK would have kept the rights in the emerging markets where they continue to grow.

However, GSK now says it has “evaluated all bids received and has concluded, consistent with its key criteria of maximising shareholder value, not to pursue divestment of these products”. Rumoured bidders included Lundbeck and the private investment firm KKR.

The move comes at a time when GSK is struggling sales-wise and a number of observers had questioned the wisdom of selling off the older drugs at this time. Earlier this week, the firm said around 900 jobs are set to go in the USA where its respiratory franchise is performing poorly.