UK CMA Questions Reckitts K-Y Acquisition
Reckitt Benckiser also owns Durex Reuters

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has expressed its concern over the potential purchase of the K-Y Jelly brand by Reckitt Benckiser (RB) from Johnson & Johnson, saying that the price of sexual lubricant could slip to new highs.

Slough-based RB is already packing the Durex brand under its belt and the watchdog has said that if it also adds K-Y Jelly to its operation, it could lead to a lack of stiff competition in the marketplace, which could in turn push prices higher.

Johnson & Johnson agreed to sell the K-Y brand to RB in March 2014, but it now faces resistance after the CMA claimed that, between them, they cover three quarters of the market.

Phil Evans, leading the inquiry for the regulator, said: "Consumers and retailers differentiate between these 2 products to some extent. However, on balance, there seems to be enough of an overlap in the market for personal lubricants for there to be a realistic prospect of consumers facing less competition and possibly higher prices if the 2 biggest brands come under single ownership. We are now inviting responses to these provisional findings and will continue to assess all the evidence before we make our final decision."

The CMA has given the companies a further eight weeks to come up with a solution that satisfies all parties before the deal can reach its climax.