Reckitt Benckiser Group is said to be in talks with Mead Johnson Nutrition over a potential takeover. The UK company could pay about $16.7bn (£13.18bn) for the American company that manufactures infant formula, flavoured milk and other foods for babies, toddlers and pregnant or breastfeeding women.
The British company, which makes health, hygiene and home products, was cited by Bloomberg as saying that the takeover discussions reflected an offer of $90 a share. This is said to mark a premium of 29% over Mead Johnson's closing stock price on Wednesday.
Reckitt Benckiser, which is currently valued at $56bn, would finance the deal through a combination of cash and debt. The move is said to give a boost to Reckitt Benckiser's consumer brands portfolio, which currently includes Dettol cleaning products, Strepsils lozenges, Scholl footcare products and Durex condoms.
If the deal materialises it would give a push to the UK company's health products business, which currently accounts for 33% of its total sales. This is currently lower than the 40% contribution made by Reckitt's hygiene business to its total sales.
Reckitt, however, cautioned there was a chance that the deal would not materialise. "[We] are presently engaged in a period of due diligence and contract discussion. There's no guarantee a deal will be struck", it was quoted as saying by the Wall Street Journal.
The news comes at a time when the stocks of Mead Johnson are trading about 30% lower than its 2015 high. Its revenues are said to be affected in part amid a revival in breastfeeding across countries such as China. Half of the American company's $3.7bn sales in 2016 are said to have come from Asia. Meanwhile, 17% were said to be from Latin America and the rest from North America and Europe.
The potential deal also follows the $10.4bn merger deal struck in July between France's Danone SA and US organic-foods producer WhiteWave Foods Co. A few other deals concluded in the consumer industry since then include, British American Tobacco's agreement to acquire Reynolds American and Luxottica Group's merger with Essilor International.