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Report: Bayer's animal health unit entices private equity firms as bidding nears

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Report: Bayer's animal health unit entices private equity firms as bidding nears

BC Partners and CVC Capital Partners Ltd. are among private equity firms considering acquiring Bayer AG's animal health unit, the Financial Times reported.

The animal health division could sell for as much as €8 billion, making the transaction one of the five biggest European private equity buyouts since the 2008 financial crisis, according to the report. The business develops and markets products to prevent and treat diseases in companion and farm animals — including Advantage, the best-selling product for flea and tick control.

London-based BC Partners is looking at a joint bid with either a rival buyout firm, a large pension fund or a sovereign wealth fund, according to people familiar with the plan. CVC Capital Partners has tapped advisers to help prepare an offer.

Cinven Ltd. and Permira Holdings Ltd. are examining a joint proposal, people briefed on the matter told the FT. Boston-based Advent International Corp. and other U.S. buyout firms are also interested in the business.

Bayer is selling its animal health business as part of a reorganization and cost reduction plan following its $62.5 billion takeover of seeds maker Monsanto Co. The German healthcare conglomerate is facing lawsuits from about 13,400 plaintiffs accusing Monsanto's top-selling weedkiller Roundup of causing cancer.

Leverkusen, Germany-based Bayer intends to dispose of the animal health unit in November, although the official sale process anticipated to commence in the next few weeks, the FT reported.

As part of efficiency and structural measures, the company is also selling its consumer health brands Dr. Scholl's and Coppertone, with plans to lay off 12,000 of its 118,200 staff worldwide by the end of 2021.