Reckitt Benckiser eyes sale of £2bn food division

Mon, 03 Apr 2017 | BUSINESS SALE

Reckitt Benckiser, the British consumer goods giant, is considering a sale of its “non core” £2 billion-valued food division to focus on health brands and raise funds to acquire the US baby food maker Mead Johnson.

The Sunday Times reported that Reckitt has informed banks of its plans to offload the unit, which includes French’s, the bestselling mustard brand in America, and Frank’s Red Hot sauces.

The FTSE 100-listed Reckitt, whose other products include Dettol, Scholl, Durex and Cilit Bang, wants to focus more on consumer health brands. Its food division is responsible for only five per cent of its global sales.

In a statement the company described its food operation as “fantastic” but confirmed it was undertaking a “strategic review” of the division.

“Food is a truly fantastic business with great brands, people and a history of outperformance. It is nevertheless non core to RB,” the multinational said.

“We have therefore decided to initiate a strategic review of Food where we will explore all options for this great business.”

The Sunday Times said Reckitt has put a value of £2 billion on the business, the sale of which would help fund its takeover of Mead Johnson for $17.9 billion (£14.2 billion), announced in February. The acquisition will see Reckitt enter the growing and lucrative baby and infant nutrition market.

Any sale of Reckitt’s food division is likely to pique the interest of Kraft Heinz, the US food giant, which tried but failed to buy Unilever earlier this year.

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