November 9, 2017 / 10:29 AM / a month ago

Merck KGaA has contacted prospective buyers of consumer health

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - Germany’s Merck KGaA said it has sent information documents on its consumer health business to prospective buyers, kicking off an auction, even as a much larger rival business is about to come to market.

Diversified group Merck announced in September it was looking into selling its consumer healthcare business, which has sales of about $1 billion a year, to help fund more research into prescription drugs.

Sources close to the matter have told Reuters that Pfizer, in turn, plans to kick off this month an auction process for its consumer healthcare business, which had sales of about $3.4 billion in 2016.

“The Pfizer business is clearly bigger and appeals to a different group of buyers, it is strongly focused on the United States. Our business has stronger growth and is geared towards emerging markets,” Merck CEO Stefan Oschmann told journalists in a conference call.

“We do like the business very much but size also plays a role in the new market environment and we believe it’s not the right future for this business to be on its own,” he added.

Merck’s consumer health business with vitamin brands such as Neurobion and Femibion saw quarterly revenues rise 11 percent on growth in Asia and Latin America, Merck said on Tuesday.

Reporting by Ludwig Burger; Editing by Maria Sheahan

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