Is Merck’s Consumer Health Unit Going to the Maker of Durex?

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Rumors surrounding the sale of Merck’s (NYSE:MRK) consumer health unit should soon be put to rest, according to reports from Reuters and Bloomberg. Merck is in final talks with British company Reckitt Benckiser (RBGLY.PK) regarding the unit, which currently makes name brands like Claritin allergy medicine and Coppertone sunblock. Reuters reports that the company is expected to buy the unit for about $14 billion.

Other bidders in the running along with the Slough, England-based Reckitt Benckiser are Procter & Gamble (NYSE:PG) and Bayer AG (BAYRY.PK), Bloomberg reports. Should Reckitt Benckiser, perhaps best known for making the Durex line of condoms, succeed in purchasing Merck’s consumer health business, the company would become the world’s third-largest producer of consumer health products. Currently, Reckitt Benckiser ranks just ninth in the same category.

Despite the fact that talks between the two companies are now in their final stages, Reckitt Benckiser says it isn’t taking any risks. “We understand that we are part of a competitive process,” the company said Monday in a statement, per Bloomberg. “There is absolutely no certainty as to the outcome or timing of this process.”

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