Reckitt hires Morgan Stanley for pharma review-sources

Reuters

By Anjuli Davies and Martinne Geller

LONDON, Nov 22 (Reuters) - Reckitt Benckiser Group has hired Morgan Stanley to advise on its options for itsshrinking pharmaceuticals unit, according to two sourcesfamiliar with the matter.

The British consumer goods company said last month it wasexamining options for the business, which sells a heroinaddiction medicine and could fetch over 2 billion pounds ($3.24billion) in a sale, according to analysts.

All options -- including selling the business, spinning itoff, trading it or keeping it -- are still on the table, saidthe sources, who declined to be identified as the matter isprivate.

A spokesman for Reckitt Benckiser declined to comment.Morgan Stanley was not immediately available to comment.

Reckitt is shifting its focus toward its higher-growthconsumer health business, which includes Durex condoms andNurofen pain relief tablets. The company also owns Lysol andDettol disinfectants and Cillit Bang cleaners.

Analysts' valuations for the pharmaceuticals business rangefrom about 2 billion pounds to 5.5 billion pounds, as the futuresales potential of the drug, called Suboxone, remains uncertain.

Reckitt sells Suboxone as a film that dissolves in the mouthto treat addiction to opioids like heroin, but its sales arefalling amid competition from cheaper, generic versions of themedicine in pill form.

The United States accounts for more than three quarters ofSuboxone's sales, which fell 14 percent to 191 million pounds inthe third quarter.

Morgan Stanley advised Reckitt on its $482 million deal inFebruary to sell some Bristol-Myers Squibb products inLatin America and its $1.4 billion deal last November to buyvitamin maker Schiff Nutrition.

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