* Option for RB to buy Latin American assets after 3 years
* Move increases UK group's presence in emerging markets
* Deal allows Bristol to focus on innovative medicines
By Ben Hirschler
LONDON, Feb 12 (Reuters) - Reckitt Benckiser is paying Bristol-Myers Squibb $482 million for the right to sell some of its non-prescription remedies in Brazil, Mexico and other parts of Latin America.
The deal, which includes a $44 million option fee that gives RB the right to buy the brands outright after three years, boosts the British consumer goods group's footprint in over-the-counter (OTC) drugs and allows BMS to rationalise its portfolio.
The transaction is the latest example of a large drug company shedding a non-core business to focus its operations.
RB will initially license the brands from BMS, which will continue to manufacture them during the three-year collaboration, with the UK firm buying products from BMS and paying royalties on sales, the two companies said on Tuesday.
The brands include Naldecon for coughs and colds, Picot for stomach acid, Tempra for pain relief, anti-gas medicine Luftal and Dermodex for nappy rash. Together, the various products had sales last year of $102 million.
"This transaction creates a material consumer healthcare platform, infrastructure and distribution network for RB in both Brazil and Mexico," said RB Chief Executive Rakesh Kapoor. "As such it is an important step in building our consumer healthcare presence in Latin American emerging markets."
RB forecast the deal would boost earnings per share from 2014.
The British group also makes popular cleaning products such as Cillit Bang but it is increasingly a health and hygiene company, having built up this side of the business through a string of acquisitions in recent years.
Last November, it clinched a deal to acquire U.S. group Schiff Nutrition for $1.4 billion, winning an entry into the vitamins and nutrition supplements market after beating out Germany's Bayer.
Past takeovers include the acquisition of Boots's OTC drugs business, cough medicines company Adams and Durex condoms group SSL.
For BMS, the transaction means it will focus in future on research-based, innovative new medicines in Latin America, reflecting its strategy of biopharmaceutical development.
The U.S. drugmaker has previously taken steps to divest other non-core businesses, including the spin-off of its baby food unit Mead Johnson Nutrition in 2009.
RB was advised on the deal by Morgan Stanley, while Jefferies acted for BMS.