Reckitt Benckiser Group Plc agreed to sell its Chinese baby-formula business to Primavera Capital Group for $2.2 billion as the company seeks to exit from the struggling sector.
Reckitt will retain an 8% stake in the unit and sees net cash proceeds of about $1.3 billion, which it plans to use to reduce debt, the company said in a statement on Saturday. The household-products maker, based in Slough in the UK, expects to record a net loss of about £2.5 billion ($3.5 billion) related to the sale, primarily on the remeasurement of goodwill and intangible assets.
The deal includes manufacturing plants in Nijmegen in the Netherlands, and Guangzhou, China, and an exclusive license of the Mead Johnson and Enfa family of brands in China. Reckitt will continue its global ownership, operating the brands in the rest of the world. The transaction is expected to be completed in the second half of 2021.
The sale marks the end of Reckitt’s venture into the baby-formula business just four years ago. The sector has struggled since the UK-based firm bought the US baby-milk group, Mead Johnson, in 2017.
Reckitt put its infant-nutrition business in Greater China under strategic review earlier this year as part of CEO Laxman Narasimhan’s biggest portfolio revamp since taking the helm of the company in late 2019. While Reckitt’s overall sales grew a record 12% in 2020 amid surging demand for Lysol and hygiene products, the China baby-milk business has been a drag on performance.
Shares in the company are little changed this year, versus a 9.4% advance in the UK’s benchmark FTSE 100 Index.