Bayer sells Dr Scholl’s for US$585 mil

Bayer’s shares have suffered on the back of legal setbacks related to its acquisition of Monsanto. (AFP pic)

FRANKFURT: German chemicals and pharmaceuticals giant Bayer said Monday that it had agreed to sell over-the-counter foot care brand Dr Scholl’s to US-based Yellow Wood Partners.

The Boston private equity firm will pay US$585 million (€521 million) for the business, which generated US$234 million in revenues last year, Bayer said in a statement.

“We look forward to seeing the brand taken to the next level of success under Yellow Wood’s ownership,” board member Heiko Schipper said, praising its “exciting pipeline of innovative products”.

Bayer is selling off chunks of its over-the-counter medicines division, known as Consumer Health, as it struggles with ebbing revenues and profits.

The unit includes household-name brands like painkiller Aspirin and indigestion treatment Alka-Seltzer.

After taking over US seeds and pesticides giant Monsanto for US$63 billion last year, the Leverkusen-based group is reorganising itself around its core businesses and biggest earners in agrichemicals and prescription pharmaceuticals.

Meanwhile, it is busy battling thousands of US lawsuits over flagship Monsanto herbicides containing chemical glyphosate, which plaintiffs argue caused them to develop cancer after years of use.

Last week, a judge slashed damages awarded by a jury to one claimant, Edwin Hardeman, from US$75 million to US$20 million – while continuing to highlight “reprehensible” conduct by Monsanto.

Such wider concerns, with potential costs for the group running into the billions, left the Bayer share price little moved by Monday’s announcement.

The shares had gained 0.5% at €59.82 around 3.45pm in Frankfurt (1345 GMT), in line with the DAX index of blue-chip German stocks.