Nestlé To Acquire Nature’s Bounty Owner
After ditching big chunks of its chocolate and ice cream businesses, Nestlé SA Chief Executive Officer Mark Schneider is embracing healthier living by bulking up on vitamins and supplements.
The world’s largest food company on Monday confirmed it’s in discussions to acquire vitamin maker Bountiful Co., whose brands include Nature’s Bounty. Owner KKR & Co. was said to have been planning an IPO valuing the firm at more than $6 billion, though an acquisition by Nestlé could preempt the initial public offering, a person familiar with the matter said. Nestlé’s move comes four years after 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. Schneider has made more than 50 deals since he took over at the helm, disposing of lagging businesses like U.S. chocolate and mass-market bottled water, and folding Nestlé’s ice cream brands into a joint venture there. He strengthened the Swiss company’s high-growth categories with smaller transactions in pet care and also splurged $7.15 billion on a deal to market Starbucks coffee products.
“This remains another example of how the company can manage via portfolio reshuffling its transition from coffee/pet to a more diverse mix in the coming years,” Citi analyst Cedric Besnard, wrote in a note.
A potential deal for Bountiful would accelerate Nestlé’s strategy of buying larger brands of vitamins as it tries to gain pricing power and appeal to high-spending health-conscious consumers.
The approach has delivered, with Nestlé last week 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. Nestlé Health Science’s revenue rose almost 10% in the first quarter on an adjusted basis.
Nestlé shares have gained more than 70% since Schneider became CEO, and the company is worth more than $300 billion. The stock was little changed Monday morning in Zurich.
Bountiful sells a wide range of vitamins that are available in retail chains such as Walmart, CVS and Rite Aid. Supplements and vitamins are attractive targets during the pandemic, which has boosted demand for products that are advertised as helping consumers’ health and immune systems.
The company, whose brands also include Puritan’s Pride, filed registration documents for the listing earlier this month.
Big consumer-goods companies have increasingly been interested in the vitamins, minerals and supplements sector, and the area builds on Nestlé’s desire to push more into healthy, medical nutrition and self-care trends, according to Bruno Monteyne, an analyst at Bernstein.
The Wall Street Journal first reported the discussions.
Credit: Bloomberg News