Bayer’s healthcare shake-up just took another big step forward. After selling its Coppertone sun care line, the company has worked up a deal for the Dr. Scholl’s foot care brand.
Private equity firm Yellow Wood Partners agreed to buy Bayer’s Dr. Scholl’s business for $585 million. The products brought in €198 million ($234 million) last year, ranking ninth among Bayer’s consumer health brands.
The deal marks the second planned sale in Bayer’s over-the-counter department as part of a bigger shake-up unveiled in November. Bayer penned a pact in May to sell Coppertone to Nivea maker Beiersdorf for $550 million.
Boston-based Yellow Wood, exclusively focused in the consumer industry, will create a standalone Dr. Scholl’s company with the current Bayer employees. The private investment shop’s portfolio includes Freeman Beauty, which also markets foot care products.
Bayer’s entire consumer franchise has been under pressure lately. In 2018, its sales in the sector dropped 6.3%, mainly on lackluster performance in the U.S. as competition intensifies.
Now that Coppertone and Dr. Scholl’s are off the to-do list, Bayer’s next big hive-off is its animal health unit. The company reportedly approached Eli Lilly’s animal health spinoff Elanco about a potential tie-up, but Elanco may not have enough cash to buy Bayer’s division.
All these sell-offs, along with a cost-saving plan and a layoff round, are part of Bayer’s cash-raising efforts in the wake of its $63 billion Monsanto buy. Bayer plans to channel the freed-up resources into strengthening its pharma business, mainly via external collaborations.
The Monsanto deal—and management’s approach to the mounting Roundup litigation that came along with it—have drawn much criticism from shareholders. Last week, a federal judge rejected Bayer’s request for a retrial in one case, but did slash the damages Bayer owed to $25.27 million from $80.27 million.
Given that Bayer has lost its Roundup lawsuits one after another, Bernstein analysts have argued for the company to consider settling. In a move that suggests a deal may indeed be on the horizon, Bayer hired an independent lawyer to advise it on the Roundup suits, and it set up a special committee to oversee the effort.
Jul 23, 2019