German drugmaker Bayer AG is nearing an agreement to buy Merck & Co Inc's consumer healthcare unit, people familiar with the matter said, in a deal that could value the business at around $14 billion. Bayer edged out other rival bidders in the auction, including Procter & Gamble Co, Boehringer Ingelheim, Novartis AG and Sanofi SA, according to Bloomberg.
Reckitt Benckiser Group, one of the final contenders in the auction, said on Wednesday it was no longer in active talks to buy the Merck business, leaving Bayer in the pole position to win the asset, which is best known for Coppertone sunscreen and Claritin allergy medicine.
Bayer and Merck are hammering out final terms of an agreement and could announce the transaction in the next several days, the people said, asking not to be named because the matter is not public. Representatives for Bayer and Merck declined to comment.