Bayer offers animal health assets, cash for Merck's OTC unit -sources

FRANKFURT/NEW YORK, April 29 Tue Apr 29, 2014 4:01pm EDT

FRANKFURT/NEW YORK, April 29 (Reuters) - Bayer AG is offering to swap its animal health assets with Merck & Co Inc's consumer healthcare business, people familiar with the matter said on Tuesday, in a move that could give the German drugmaker a leg up in the $14 billion auction of the Merck business.

As part of its bid, Bayer has offered to pay the remainder of the acquisition price in cash, these people said, who asked not to be named because the matter is not public.

Bayer and Britain's Reckitt Benckiser Group are among the final contenders for the Merck unit, best known for Coppertone sunscreen and Claritin allergy medicine, Reuters reported last weekend.

Bayer's animal health business had net sales of 1.3 billion euros ($1.8 billion) in 2013, according to the company's website. Representatives for Bayer and Merck did not respond to requests for comment. (Reporting by Arno Scheutze in Frankfurt and Olivia Oran in New York; additional reporting by Soyoung Kim in New York and Sophie Sassard in London; Editing by Leslie Adler)