Belgium's Omega Pharma may be the next seller in OTC deal wave

Lately, OTC businesses have been selling like hotcakes, with a number of global consumer players looking to bulk up. Now, reports say Belgium's Omega Pharma could be the next to enter the deal arena with an OTC business worth more than $4 billion.

Omega, whose products include painkiller Solpadeine, is exploring whether to put its business on the block, sources tell Bloomberg. The Nazareth-based drugmaker is working with Morgan Stanley on a sales process that could start as early as this month.

Omega could make a profitable addition for companies trying to flourish in the consumer space, with its operating profit swelling 11% last year to €137.7 million ($187.2 million), the news service reports. Sales jumped 16% to €1.2 billion ($1.6 billion) on the back of strong showings in Germany, the U.K., Ireland, France, Russia and elsewhere.

Omega certainly wouldn't be the first OTC business up for grabs in recent months, with Merck ($MRK) in May agreeing to sell its consumer unit to Bayer for $14.2 billion. The German pharma beat out a slew of global companies, including Reckitt Benckiser, and reportedly still has suitors eyeing brands, like Coppertone sunscreen, that don't quite fit into its drug-focused lineup.

Still, the German pharma says it doesn't intend to sell those off, a move that would run counter to its stated goal of becoming the world's OTC leader. But to get there, it will have to fight off other companies eager to beef up their consumer offerings as well; Sanofi ($SNY) has made a string of deals to more than double its OTC sales in recent years, and Novartis ($NVS) and GlaxoSmithKline ($GSK) recently announced a joint consumer health venture as part of a blockbuster asset swap.

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