HEALTH

Reckitt Benckiser ups the ante for Schiff business with a 23.5% premium to Bayer buyout offer

BY Michael Johnsen

SLOUGH, England — The battle for Schiff Nutrition is on. Reckitt Benckiser on Friday commenced its previously announced tender offer to acquire all of the outstanding shares of Schiff Nutrition — a provider of branded vitamins, nutrition supplements and nutrition bars in the United States and elsewhere — for $42 per share in cash, or approximately $1.4 billion.

“For Reckitt Benckiser, this acquisition would provide a powerful entryway into the large and rapidly growing $30 billion global VMS market," stated Rakesh Kapoor, RB CEO. "This market would be the largest consumer healthcare sector in which we operate. It is an ideal addition to Reckitt Benckiser’s new strategic focus in global health and hygiene, and would give us immediate scale in VMS in the USA. It also plays well to our consumer marketing, innovation and go to market capabilities.” 

Reckitt Benckiser’s offer represents a premium of 23.5% over the $34 per share transaction announced Oct. 30 by Bayer HealthCare and Schiff. Reckitt Benckiser’s offer is subject to Schiff terminating their merger and related agreements with Bayer HealthCare and will expire at 9 a.m., New York City time, on Dec. 14.  

“We are confident that the VMS market drivers, notably changing demographics and increased awareness of the health and wellness benefits of VMS products, will provide significant long-term growth potential in what is currently a very fragmented market," Kapoor said. 

Bayer Healthcare in October signed a merger agreement to acquire Schiff Nutrition International, which fields several prominent supplement brands, including Digestive Advantage, MegaRed, Move Free and Airborne. Those four products accounted for 70% of all Schiff sales, noted Marijn Dekkers, Bayer CEO, during an analyst call announcing the deal. "This acquisition will strengthen Bayer’s leading OTC business and complement our existing nutritionals business with well-established strong brands," he said. 

Schiff generated net sales of $259 million for its fiscal year ended May 31. On Sept. 18, Schiff announced that net sales for fiscal year 2013 were projected to grow between 43% and 46%. Expected sales growth included contributions from new products and brand building, as well as Airborne, which was acquired by Schiff on March 30. 

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GNC product partner and AquaHydrate board member Mark Wahlberg heralds new sports drink distribution

BY Michael Johnsen

LOS ANGELES — In the wake of a summer rebranding campaign aimed at active, health-conscious consumers, AquaHydrate on Thursday announced expansion of its distribution through GNC. 

The AquaHydrate line offers consumers "Supercharged Hydration," a combination of key electrolytes and alkalinity that helps restore balance to the body. While many sports and vitamin drinks hover around a 4 pH (relatively acidic) and most bottled water between 7 and 7.5 (pH neutral), AquaHydrate stands at a pH value of more than 9 (relatively alkaline).

"GNC and AquaHydrate are the perfect match. We already know the vast majority of our consumers are regular shoppers of GNC," stated John Cochran, CEO of AquaHydrate.

"I am excited to see AquaHydrate partnering with GNC for nationwide distribution," stated Mark Wahlberg, AquaHydrate board member. "AquaHydrate will be a great complement to the Marked line of supplements, as well as the wide array of performance products available at GNC."

Earlier this year GNC partnered with actor/producer Mark Wahlberg on the launch of Marked, a new nutritional supplement line designed to meet the demanding lifestyles of fitness consumers. The Marked line — consisting of seven sports and active nutrition products — was designed by GNC scientists and wellness experts in partnership with Wahlberg.

As part of that partnership, Wahlberg has served as the leading brand ambassador and will drive the marketing approach for the Marked product line. 

AquaHydrate also has distribution in Whole Foods, Vitamin World, Sprouts, Albertsons and across several convenience outlets.  

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ReportersNotebook — Over the Counter, 11/19/12

BY Michael Johnsen

SUPPLIER NEWS — Acura Pharmaceuticals in December will launch an immediate-release pseudoephedrine tablet under the brand name Nexafed that will help impede conversion of the tablets into methamphetamine. Couched as the “next generation pseudoephedrine product,” Nexafed is a 30 mg PSE hydrochloride tablet that utilizes Acura’s trademarked Impede technology. 


When using the “shake-and-bake” or “one-pot” method, the Impede technology yields approximately half as much methamphetamine as compared with a traditional PSE product — or 38% of the maximum possible pure methamphetamine out of each tablet — and consequently makes use of the cold medicine by “meth cooks” less profitable.


For other methods of baking meth out of PSE tablets, which require isolating the pseudoephedrine from the cold tablets, the Impede technology yields no usable pseudoephedrine. 


“This is a high-recommendation category,” noted Acura CEO Bob Jones. “When the pharmacist gets behind a product like Nexafed … that message will translate into product sales.”


Eventually, Acura plans to file with the Drug Enforcement Agency for an exemption from the requirement that PSE products be sold behind the pharmacy counter. That would place a PSE product back on store shelves for the first time in seven years. Launching now will help Acura build a case of real-life positive outcomes, Jones told DSN.

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