Last October, Pfizer said it was “reviewing strategic alternatives” for its consumer healthcare business, and would consider divesting the segment which brings in approximately $3.4bn in annual revenues.
Reckitt Benckiser has been named among the favourites to buy the business, reportedly for as much as $14bn (€12bn), but during the firm’s Q4 earnings call CEO Rakesh Kapoor played down rumours of an imminent acquisition.
“All I would comment to you is that we have been very disciplined in looking at M&A,” he told an analyst on the call (transcript here). “In all the M&A we've done we've applied three very simple criteria: Strategically comparing we need to be better owners, and in some case make us also better actually, and finally, of course it has to have value for shareholders.”
He added: “For every major acquisition we've done so far at my lifetime and before. All these three things have been proven before. That shows that not by accident, it is by discipline. And to be, to know when to enter and when to walk away. So, I think we will be very disciplined in any future M&A that we may do at whatever point in time.”
When Pfizer announced plans to restructure its consumer healthcare business, Procter & Gamble (P&G), GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), Johnson & Johnson (J&J), Abbott, and Nestlé were named alongside Reckitt Benckiser as potential suitors.
But in January, J&J pulled out of a potential bidding race and according to Bloomberg, citing sources close to the matter earlier this month, GSK and Reckitt Benckiser were the only companies to have submitted non-binding bids for the business.