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Glaxo Ownership in Affy Drops to Below 9 Percent

NEW YORK, June 4 - GlaxoSmithKline has sold a major portion of its stake in Affymetrix, shrinking its ownership in the biochip company from 13 percent to 8.7 percent, filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission show.

 

On May 15, 16, and 17, the pharmaceutical giant sold 3 million shares of San Francisco-based Affy at $25 per share for a total windfall of approximately $75 million, according to an Affy spokesman.

 

The two companies have a relationship that dates back to 1995. In addition to the substantial stake in the company, Glaxo is also a major customer for Affymetrix microarray systems.

 

Shareholders shrugged off the sale. Affy's share price hovered in the mid-$20s for most of May.

 

GlaxoSmithKline, the biggest drug company in Europe, is still the largest single shareholder in Affymetrix.

 

The Affy spokesperson, Doug Farrell, said Affy "anticipated" the divestiture, which he said is the latest in a steady and "predictable" sell-off by Glaxo begun 3-4 years ago. In the mid-1990s, Glaxo owned around 60 percent of Affy, according to Farrell. That number fell to 31 percent by the end of 1999.