Durex owner Reckitt Benckiser is in talks to buy baby formula maker Mead Johnson for $16.7bn

 
Emma Haslett
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Contingency planning? The maker of Durex is in talks to buy a baby formula company (Source: Getty)

Reckitt Benckiser (RB), the company behind such household names as Durex, Cillit Bang and Nurofen, is in talks to buy a baby formula manufacturer for $16.7bn (£13.2bn).

In a statement this morning, RB said it was in advanced talks with Mead Johnson to buy its shares at $90 each, valuing it at $16.7bn.

The company said it will finance the transaction through a combination of cash and debt - but assured shareholders it will retain a "strong investment grade credit rating" throughout.

Investors were clearly convinced: shares in RB rose 3.6 per cent to 7,077p as the market opened this morning. Meanwhile, Mead Johnson's shares leaped 23.74 per cent to $86 in after-hours trading in New York.

RB hit the headlines at the end of last year when it was handed a £3.5m fine by an Australian court over claims it misled customers by claiming its Nurofen products targeted specific parts of the body.

A year earlier, the UK's Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) said it had launched an investigation into Nurofen Express over claims it can directly target muscles in the head.

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