Unilever’s sale of Sanex brand attracts big industry names

By Simon Pitman

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags European commission

The forced sale of the Sanex brand by Unilever is attracting some of the biggest global players in the personal care business, with names such as P&G, Henkel and Colgate-Palmolive rumored to be playing a key part in the bidding process.

Back in November 2010 Unilever was given the all clear to acquire Sara Lee’s Personal Care and European Laundry business by the European Commission (EC), on the condition it sold the Sanex deodorant brand after the acquisition was completed.

Now that the sale has been fully approved, disposal of the Sanex brand is going ahead, and according to a Bloomberg report individuals involved in briefings for the bidding process have confirmed the three big industry names are playing a significant role in the bidding process.

The news agency report also links both Johnson & Johnson and L’Oreal to the bidding process, and according to the sources both of these business have also expressed an interest to go to the second round of the bidding process, which is due to start next week.

Sanex is a big name in European deodorant category

The EC’s earlier investigation confirmed competition concerns in a number of deodorant markets, prompting the merging parties to offer to divest Sara Lee's Sanex brand and related business in Europe.

Analysts believe the sale could fetch up to $1bn for Unilever. However, the Sanex brand is the biggest in the deodorant portfolio, so the forced sale will be a reluctant one for Unilever.

Unilever's deodorant business, which includes brands Dove and Rexona, already holds a strong market position, and there were concerns that its unification with Sara Lee’s Sanex brand, with which it presently competes against, would give it an unfair advantage

The front runners...

P&G remains the largest consumer goods company in the world, and despite being hit by the economic recession, it has now managed to gain back some of its lost market share and remains in a strong position to make further acquisitions.

Colgate-Palmolive continues to dominate the global market for oral care and rode out the economic crisis well. However, executives there have signalled that they want to reduce the dependence on oral care by entering into other personal care categories.

Germany-based player Henkel reported big gains in the financial year 2010, as profits soared by over 80 percent to exceed $1.5bn – a result that has undoubtedly put it in a stronger position to make further acquisitions.

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