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Germany's Bayer to buy Merck unit for US$14.2 bil.

FRANKFURT--German chemicals and pharmaceuticals giant Bayer, maker of Aspirin painkiller, said on Tuesday it will acquire the consumer care business of Merck Co. in the U.S. for US$14.2 billion.

The purchase will make Bayer the world's second-biggest maker of over-the-counter (OTC) or non-prescription products, it said.

“Bayer has agreed to acquire the consumer care business of U.S. pharmaceutical company Merck & Co., for a purchase price of US$14.2 billion (10.4 billion euros),” the German group said in a statement.

“This acquisition marks a major milestone on our path towards global leadership in the attractive non-prescription medicines business,” said chief executive Marijn Dekkers.

Merck & Co's consumer care business includes leading brands such as Claritin, Coppertone and Dr. Scholl's.

Pro forma sales of the combined businesses in 2013 amounted to US$7.4 billion (5.5 billion euros) with Merck & Co.'s business contributing approximately US$2.2 billion.

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