Nestle in talks over $10 billion sale of skin health unit to EQT, ADIA

FILE PHOTO: Logo is pictured during the 152nd Annual General Meeting of Nestle in Lausanne
FILE PHOTO: Logo is pictured during the 152nd Annual General Meeting of Nestle in Lausanne  

By Michael Shields

ZURICH (Reuters) - Nestle SA has entered exclusive negotiations to sell its skin health business to a consortium led by EQT Partners and Abu Dhabi's ADIA in a deal worth 10.2 billion Swiss francs ($10.12 billion), it said on Thursday.

The proposed transaction with private equity firm EQT and a unit of the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority was expected to close in the second half of 2019, pending regulatory approval, it said.

Nestle will provide an update on how it will use the proceeds and its future capital structure at that time, the world's biggest packaged food group said in a statement.

Nestle shares were indicated 0.6% higher in pre-market activity.

Reuters and the Financial Times had reported on Wednesday that EQT was putting the finishing touches to the deal.

Nestle Chief Executive Mark Schneider put the skin health unit up for sale last September as the group moved to ditch underperforming businesses in an effort to fend off criticism from an activist investor who wanted an overhaul.

Nestle Skin Health, which sells Cetaphil and Proactiv skin care products, Restylane wrinkle fillers and prescription dermatology medicines, had sales of 2.8 billion Swiss francs last year.

Nestle created the unit in 2014 when it bought out L'Oreal's stake in their Galderma joint venture.

Under former Chief Executive Paul Bulcke, skin treatments were part of Nestle's push into higher-growth health products to counter a slowdown in its traditional food business.

But the unit has performed poorly, leading to one-off costs and restructuring.

EQT and ADIA had faced competition from rival buyout funds and some industry players including a consortium of Advent and Cinven, as well as U.S. private equity firm KKR & Co Inc and European fund PAI Partners, sources had said.

(Reporting by Michael Shields and Pamela Barbaglia; Editing by Brenna Hughes Neghaiwi and Jan Harvey)


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