Nestle SA agreed to buy vitamin maker Bountiful Co. for $5.75 billion, becoming a world leader in the field of minerals and supplements, as the pandemic boosts demand for pills for health-conscious consumers.
KKR & Co. and Carlyle are selling the company for 16.8 times earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization. Nestle said it expects the purchase to close in the second half and weigh on profitability this year.
Chief Executive Officer Mark Schneider dove into the field of vitamins and supplements in his first year as CEO in 2017 with the $2.3 billion acquisition of Atrium Innovations Inc. Predecessor Paul Bulcke had ruled out the segment, arguing that the business is too competitive to create products with pricing power. Nevertheless, Schneider rejected that idea and has focused on developing larger brands in the segment, seeing a market in high-spending health-conscious consumers.
“The bolt-on acquisition fits well with Nestle’s strategy to further expand in the highly attractive and globally growing category of specialized nutrition,” wrote Patrik Schwendimann, an analyst at Zuercher Kantonalbank. He said the price seems fair.
Schneider’s strategy has delivered, with Nestle recently reporting sales growth at double the pace analysts predicted. Supplements and minerals that boost the immune system are in high demand, and e-commerce has become an effective way to sell such products, the company said. Nestle Health Science’s revenue rose almost 10% in the first quarter on an adjusted basis.
Nestle shares have gained more than 70% since Schneider became CEO, and the company is worth more than $300 billion. The stock was little changed in Zurich on Friday morning.
The purchase will weigh on profitability this year because of one-time integration costs, Nestle said.
KKR & Co. had been planning an initial public offering valuing Bountiful at more than $6 billion, Bloomberg News reported in January.
Schneider has made more than 50 deals since taking over at the helm of the Swiss firm, and has said Nestle plans more acquisitions in the coming years to balance out the numerous divestments made over the past years including U.S. bottled-water businesses.
Bountiful sells a wide range of vitamins that are available in retail chains such as Walmart, CVS and Rite Aid. The pandemic has boosted demand for products that are advertised as helping consumers’ health and immune systems.
Evercore, Morgan Stanley and JPMorgan advised KKR. Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP was its legal counsel.
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