U.S. Markets open in 1 hr 19 mins

Glaxo, Reckitt Submit Only Bids for Pfizer's Consumer Unit

Manuel Baigorri, James Paton, Jared S Hopkins, Ruth David
UNITED STATES - MARCH 21: the Advil table during the 56th Senior PGA Championship held at the PGA National Golf Club in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida. April 13-16, 1995. (photograph by The PGA of America). (Photo by Montana Pritchard/PGA of America via Getty Images)

GlaxoSmithKline Plc and Reckitt Benckiser Group Plc are the only companies to have submitted non-binding bids for Pfizer Inc.’s consumer business after rival candidates walked away, according to people familiar with the matter.

Pfizer plans to open a data room for Glaxo and Reckitt to start due diligence on the assets before submitting final offers in the next few weeks, the people said, asking not to be identified because the matter is private. French drugmaker Sanofi, Switzerland’s Nestle SA and health care giant Johnson & Johnson were among companies to consider and then decide against bidding for the business, the people said.

More from Bloomberg.com: Bitcoin Ban Expands Across Credit Cards as Big U.S. Banks Recoil

The deadline for non-binding offers for the business, which makes well-known brands including the pain reliever Advil, ChapStick lip balm and the dietary supplement Centrum, was Feb. 1, the people said. The unit could fetch $15 billion to $20 billion, people familiar with the matter have said. Potential buyers have expressed concerns about stagnant sales at the division as well as the challenge from online competitors such as Amazon.com Inc, the people said.

Representatives for Glaxo and Reckitt declined to comment. A Sanofi spokesman also said he had no comment. A spokeswoman for Nestle wasn’t immediately available to comment. A spokesman for J&J confirmed that the company had withdrawn from the bidding process and declined to comment further.

More from Bloomberg.com: Traders Are Asking If the Bond and Stock Selloff Is the Start of Something Big

A spokeswoman for Pfizer said the company is continuing to evaluate a range of options for its consumer healthcare business, including a full or partial separation from Pfizer through a spin-off, sale or other transaction, and it may still opt to keep the business. The company expects to reach a decision in 2018, she said.

Pfizer first announced a review of the business in October. A sale would help the U.S. drug giant raise billions of dollars in cash for acquisitions and streamline operations to focus on other growth areas.

More from Bloomberg.com: Dow Plunges 666 Points as Rate Angst Sinks Bonds: Markets Wrap

Sales at the consumer-products business were little changed in the fourth quarter from a year earlier at $950 million. Full-year sales at the unit advanced by 2 percent to $3.47 billion.

Glaxo Chief Executive Officer Emma Walmsley said at a conference in San Francisco last month that the company’s top priority is the pharmaceutical business and that it doesn’t need the Pfizer assets though the unit would be complementary.

More from Bloomberg.com

Read Glaxo, Reckitt Submit Only Bids for Pfizer's Consumer Unit on bloomberg.com