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Merck KGaA considering multi-million euro sale

German chemicals, healthcare and biotech group Merck KGaA is considering selling its 860 million-euro ($1.02 billion) consumer health business to focus on science and technology, it said on Tuesday.

“We expect increasing internal constraints to fund the business to reach the required scale. Fully anticipating this, we are preparing strategic options,” Belen Garijo, chief executive of the healthcare business, said in a statement.

Industry experts have for years viewed the unit – whose brands include nutritional supplements Seven Seas and Bion and decongestant Nasivin – as lacking critical scale.

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Sources have said that management has informally sounded out prospective buyers’ interest on numerous occasions over the years, only to be held back by the founding family, which still owns 70 percent of Merck and favours a diversified strategy.

Shares in Merck rose as much as 2.9 percent to 94.72 euros in early trade, their highest level in nearly six weeks.

Merck said it would consider a full or partial sale of the consumer health business as well as strategic partnerships, adding that the review process was in an early stage with no final decision taken.

($1 = 0.8400 euros) (Reuters)

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