Bayer Said to Explore Sale of $1.1 Billion Dermatology Business

  • German drugmaker working with JPMorgan on potential disposal
  • Bayer considering sale as it pursues Monsanto acquisition

Bayer AG is exploring the sale of its dermatology business, according to people familiar with the matter, as the German drugmaker gets rid of peripheral enterprises and pursues the takeover of crop chemicals rival Monsanto Co.

The German company is working with JPMorgan Chase & Co. on the sale, which could fetch more than 1 billion euros ($1.1 billion), said the people, asking not to be identified because talks are private. The process is at an early stage and Bayer could decide against a disposal, they said. Bayer’s dermatology products include the eczema treatment Desonate and Finacea for rosacea.

The business could attract interest from existing makers of skin-care products including Nestle SA’s Galderma, Allergan Plc and Almirall SA of Spain, as well as private-equity firms, two of the people said. Spokesmen for Bayer and JPMorgan declined to comment as did the representatives for the potential bidders.

Bayer shares fell 0.7 percent to 95.46 euros at 9:20 a.m. in Frankfurt. Bayer has returned a 16 percent loss this year, compared with a 1 percent drop in Germany’s benchmark DAX Index.

Bayer said on Monday it had sweetened its takeover bid for St. Louis-based Monsanto to $56 billion, raising its offer for a second time in its attempt to become the world’s largest producer of seeds and pesticides. The Leverkusen-based firm had previously intensified its focus on life sciences by buying Merck & Co.’s over-the-counter medicines business in 2014 and divesting a stake in its plastics unit last year.

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