Nestlé more interested in the consumer health care Merck KGaA


LONDON/FRANKFURT (Reuters) – The process of disposal of the consumer healthcare business of the German laboratory Merck (NYSE:MRK) KGaA, which finds itself weakened by the decision of Nestlé (SIX:NESN) to withdraw from the race as the giant swiss food was the favorite to win the bet, said to Reuters sources close to the matter.

After months of negotiations in the framework of a sale organised by JP Morgan, Nestlé has stopped considering the price of some four billion euros claimed by Merck to its business, which includes dietary supplements Seven Seas, said the sources.

Nestlé has refused to comment on the information. A spokesperson for Merck said that “the process of evaluation of options for our health activities general public is well underway”.

Four sources close to the matter have said that the interest of other candidates, including the british Reckitt Benckiser (LON:RB) also began to wane due to including another auction of a pole of consumer health, the survey conducted by Pfizer (NYSE:PFE).

According to the sources, Reckitt focuses now primarily on the pole put up for sale by the us pharmaceuticals giant, including the anti-inflammatory Advil, the lip balm Chapstick, and the multi-vitamin Centrum, which could be worth up to 20 billion dollars (16 billion euros).

The british group declined to comment.

Merck announced in September its intention to sell its health division general public, of which the annual turnover is approximately one billion euros, in order to fund more research into prescription drug.

Nestlé, increasingly oriented towards nutrition and health, had submitted a binding offer to Merck in November and had been invited to propose a final proposal this year.

(Pamela Barbaglia, Patricia Weiss and Martinne Geller, Benoit Van Overstraeten for the French service)

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