Reuters: Merck closes in on sale of consumer healthcare unit for $14B

Merck (MRK) could agree a deal to sell its consumer healthcare operations this week for almost $14B, Reuters reports, with Germany's Bayer (BAYRY) and U.K.-based Reckitt Benckiser (RBGLY) the frontrunners to buy the unit.

Other healthcare consumer giants have also also shown interest in the business, including Procter & Gamble (PG), Novartis (NVS) and Sanofi (SNY).

Merck is looking to sell the operations as it only holds around 1% of the market.

A deal would be the latest in a wave of blockbuster transactions to have swept the healthcare sector recently, such as Pfizer's $100B+ reported offer to acquire AstroZeneca, Valeant and Bill Ackman's $47B play for Allergan, Zimmer's agreement to purchase Biomet for $13.35B, and a series of deals involving Novartis, GlaxoSmithKline and Eli Lilly.

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