P.M. BRIEFING : SmithKline Sells 2 Subsidiaries

From Times Wire Services

SmithKline Beecham PLC, the pharmaceutical company formed last year in a $16-billion merger of Philadelphia’s SmithKline Beckman Corp. and Britain’s Beecham Group PLC, said today it will sell two of its cosmetics businesses to a West German firm for $358 million.

SmithKline said it agreed to sell its Margaret Astor and Lancaster cosmetics businesses to Joh. A. Benckiser GmbH. The same company paid $106 million in December for SmithKline’s Household Products business in North America.

Industry analysts said the sale would reduce SmithKline’s debt burden, which exceeded $3 billion in mid-March. Wall Street favored the decision, and the company’s stock rose $1.375 to $46.25 on the New York Stock Exchange by midday.