Procter & Gamble (PG) agreed Thursday to buy the consumer healthcare unit of Germany's Merck KGaA (MKGAY) for around $4.2 billion in the first major purchase for the group since activist investor Nelson Peltz won a seat on the board late last year.
Procter & Gamble will pay €3.4 billion ($4.21 billion) for the division, which includes brands such as Seven Seas and Neurobion vitamins, in a deal that is expected to close in the fourth quarter of this year. Darmstadt, Germany-based Merck said around 3,000 employees will ultimately shift over to the P&G stable once consultations with works councils are completed.
"We like the steady, broad-based growth of the OTC Health Care market and are pleased to add the Consumer Health portfolio and people of Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, to the P&G family," said CEO David Taylor. TheStreet's Executive Editor Brian Sozzi talked with Taylor last year about his appetite to do deals amid the board battle with Peltz, which you can watch below.
"We view the deal for Merck KGaA's OTC assets positively on multiple fronts," said Wells Fargo analyst Bonnie Herzog. "It should be accretive to P&G's current growth profile and gives P&G scale overseas to run their own global OTC business without their prior partner Teva Pharmaceutical (TEVA) . Most importantly, it indicates to us that the board/management are not settling and taking the offensive to transform the portfolio."
The deal is the first major acquisition for the Cincinnati, Ohio-based P&G since Petlz, through his Trian Partners investment vehicle, won the right to a board seat despite narrowly losing a proxy battle with management that involved a contentious shareholder vote and recount. Peltz officially joined the board on March 1.
Peltz's campaign began in February 2017 when his Trian Fund Management LP disclosed a $3.5 billion position, which was followed in July by a presentation citing "suffocating bureaucracy" at the iconic packaged goods company. The proxy war concluded with Peltz receiving the backing of roughly half of shares voted in a director fight that took place at the company's annual meeting in October but didn't really end until the two sides settled in December to bring the dissident onto an expanded 13-person board.
P&G shares closed at $78.20 each in New York Wednesday after falling 0.29% on the session to extend their year-to-date decline to 13.7%. The has lost about 14% of its value since Peltz revealed a $3.5 billion holding in February of last year.
-Brian Sozzi contributed to this story.