Mumbai: The world’s sixth largest consumer health and pharma company Johnson & Johnson (J&J) is close to selling two of its brands Savlon antiseptic soap and liquids, and Shower to Shower talcum powder, in India for over Rs 300 crore. J&J India’s non-core divestment has attracted the attention of multiple suitors, sources who did not want to be named as the sale process is currently under way.
Tech czar Azim Premji’s privately held Wipro Consumer Care, Emami and Dabur are among the bidders who have looked at the deal. The transaction involves selling brand rights and technical know-how, sources said.
India and Taiwan have been the two bigger markets for Savlon with J&J planning to sell the rights of the brand in both these markets. One source cited earlier said the maker of adhesive bandages Band-Aid, Stayfree sanitary napkins and Listerine mouth washes had insisted on selling the Savlon brand rights for the two markets together.
A second source, however, added that the company was veering towards offloading the brand to separate local suitors in India and in Taiwan. Even for the Indian business, some bidders like Zydus Cadila made specific offers for the Savlon brand only.
J&J’s two heritage brands together reported Rs 90-crore sales in the last fiscal. Savlon antiseptic soap, liquid and hand washes had clocked Rs 65 crore in business, while the smaller operations of Shower to Shower prickly heat powder turned up with Rs 25 crore of sales.
Reckitt Benckiser’s Dettol is a dominant leader in the antiseptic category and also among the top five soap brands in the country.
When contacted, a J&J India spokesperson said the company would not comment on speculation. Wipro declined to comment, while Emami could not be reached for immediate comments.
The divestment move is part of J&J India’s plan to rev up its M&A engine to accelerate growth in the consumer business, heavily driven by the baby care products currently. The company is chasing acquisitions in the over-the-counter health space while ramping up reach in the feminine hygiene and skin care verticals.
“Hygiene categories are expected to do well in the long term. Thus, many consumer companies should be willing to acquire these brands,” said Gautam Duggad, vice-president – research (FMCG & retail) at domestic brokerage firm Motilal Oswal.