Does P&G deal mark a sea change?

Logos for Warner Chilcott and Procter & Gamble

TEXT OF STORY

Kai Ryssdal: Procter & Gamble, proud purveyor of household staples like Tide and Crest also has a huge prescription drug operation. It's a multibillion-dollar part of P&G's bottom line, but it never really caught on like the company had hoped. So today the Irish pharmaceutical firm Warner Chilcott announced it'll pay just over $3 billion to take drugs off P&G's hands.

Perhaps most interesting, though, is what the P&G deal says about M&A -- mergers and acquisitions. It's been a while since lenders have been financing these kinds of purchases like they used to. Marketplace's Jeff Tyler reports.


JEFF TYLER: Money for companies to buy other companies has been scarce for the last year.

KEN MacFadyen: Across the board, lenders have been real gun shy.

Ken MacFadyen is editor of the Mergers & Acquisitions Journal. He says caution in the marketplace kept Procter & Gamble from getting as much money as it wanted for its drug company.

MacFadyen: I think they did sell it for less than they might have hoped for in a good market.

The sale is expected to be worth about $3 billion for P&G.

MacFadyen: I would say, in a normal market, they almost could have gotten double that amount.

But MacFadyen sees the deal as a heartening harbinger for the banking industry.

MacFadyen: That's a good sign to see that the lenders are active again.

A consortium of banks funded the deal to the tune of $4 billion. That includes money for the buyer, Warner Chilcott, to pay down debt.

Vipal Monga covers mergers and acquisitions for The Deal magazine.

Monga: The fact that the banks are willing to do this suggests that their risk appetite is returning.

But that appetite for risk is still a fairly restricted diet. Monga says banks have viewed drug companies as almost recession-proof cash machines, funding several massive pharmaceutical mergers last spring.

MONGA: The banks were willing to put out the money because of the amount of cash-flow that Warner Chilcott generates. And the fact that it was a health-care deal. I don't think they would have been putting out $4 billion for a transportation deal, for example.

He expects to see a wave of mergers as companies gobble-up their weaker rivals at bargain prices. But he doesn't expect momentum to really pick-up until next year.

I'm Jeff Tyler for Marketplace.

About the author

Jeff Tyler is a reporter for Marketplace’s Los Angeles bureau, where he reports on issues related to immigration and Latin America.

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