By Martinne Geller, Pamela Barbaglia and Ben Hirschler
LONDON (Reuters) - Nestle
Even though Indian shoppers have lately been pressured by a currency devaluation and goods and service tax, the country's growing population and rising wealth make it attractive for companies trying to offset weak growth in Western markets. It was not clear which other companies were bidding, although Reckitt Benckiser
Horlicks is a malt-based drink dating back to 1873, when two British-born men, James and William Horlick, founded a company in Chicago to manufacture it. It was taken to India by soldiers who had fought with the British Army in the First World War.
Sold as a bedtime drink in Britain, Horlicks has been developed into a much bigger brand by GSK in India. But the drugmaker started a review of that business and some smaller products, after buying Novartis
The main asset on the block is GSK's 72.5 percent stake in its Indian subsidiary GlaxoSmithKline Consumer Healthcare
Nestle has told GSK privately of its interest in Horlicks on several occasions over the years, people familiar with the matter told Reuters earlier this year.
For Coke, buying the Horlicks business would mark another multibillion-dollar acquisition, following a deal to buy Costa Coffee for $5.1 billion last month.
GSK is being advised by Morgan Stanley and Greenhill.
The company sold its much smaller UK Horlicks business to Aimia Foods earlier this year for an undisclosed amount.
(Editing by Mark Potter)