BY Richard Summerfield
The world’s leading consumer health and hygiene firm, Reckitt Benckiser Group plc, has announced that it is to acquire Mead Johnson Nutrition Company for around $16.6bn, though the total value of the deal, including the target's existing debt, will be around $17.9bn.
Mead's shareholders will receive $90 cash per share held, a premium of 9 percent to the company's closing price of $69.50 on 1 February 2017, the day before speculation of a possible deal first emerged, and 24 percent up on its 30-day volume-weighted average price of $72.37.
In a statement announcing the deal Rakesh Kapoor, Reckitt's chief executive, said: “The acquisition of Mead Johnson is a significant step forward in RB’s journey as a leader in consumer health. With the Enfa family of brands, the world’s leading franchise in infant and children’s nutrition, we will provide families with vital nutritional support. This is a natural extension to RB’s consumer health portfolio of Powerbrands which are already trusted by millions of mothers, reinforcing the importance of health and hygiene for their families.”
According to the firms, the newly combined company will generate around 40 percent of its sales in developing markets. China will be the firm’s second-largest market after the US. The takeover will add to Reckitt's earnings within a year of the deal completing and the deal will generate $250m of cost savings after three years.
James Cornelius, chairman of Mead's board of directors, said: “The agreement being announced today is about value creation. First and foremost, this transaction provides tremendous value to Mead Johnson Nutrition stockholders. Additionally, relative to the future growth and development of the Mead Johnson business, Reckitt Benckiser – with its strong financial base, broad global footprint, consumer branding expertise and dynamic business model – is an ideal partner.”
Reckitt has confirmed that the deal will be funded through a combination of cash and new debt. To complete the deal, the company will take out a bridging loan of $8bn to cover the cash consideration and issue $9bn of new debt in the form of three- to five-year-term loans.
The two companies have also noted that the deal will include a $480m break-fee if either company walks away, subject to certain conditions.