Reckitt steps down from Merck sale discussions after two days

RECKITT Benckiser announced yesterday that it has given up on talks with pharmaceutical giant Merck about purchasing the firm’s $14bn (£11.5bn) consumer healthcare arm.

Reckitt was rumoured to be the most likely buyer earlier this month, but did not admit until a statement on Monday that the two groups were in active discussions over the sale.

Reckitt chief exec Rakesh Kapoor said that the market for consumer health firms was “highly fragmented” and that the group will “continue to evaluate opportunities that fit both our strategic and financial criteria.”

With Reckitt out of the running for the business, German chemical firm Bayer is currently thought to be at the top of the list of likely buyers.

Merck’s share price fell by 0.27 per cent in trading hours yesterday, but rose by a similar amount in after hours. Reckitt Benckiser’s share price fell by 1.44 per cent during the day.