LONDON — Beecham Group PLC, the British household-products and health-care concern, said Friday that it is discussing the possible acquisition of Norcliff Thayer from Pantry Pride Inc.
Norcliff Thayer makes health aids and over-the-counter medications and is a unit of Revlon Inc., which Pantry Pride acquired earlier this month for $1.83 billion.
Norcliff Thayer's products include Tums antacids and Oxy acne treatment. While Revlon did not break out Norcliff Thayer's financial results, industry analysts estimate its annual sales at about $165 million.
A spokesman for Beecham said the company would not have further comment until results of the talks are known. "That's all we can say for now," he said.
Lawrence Rand, an outside spokesman for Pantry Pride in New York, confirmed that "we are in discussions with Beecham," but also declined to provide details. Pantry Pride, based in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., operates supermarkets and other retail stores.
Beecham produces a broad line of consumer products and toiletries. In the United States its brands include Cling Free fabric softener, Aqua-Fresh toothpaste and Aqua Velva skin lotion.
Pantry Pride has not announced specific plans for Revlon, although there is speculation on Wall Street that the company will sell some Revlon divisions to ease the sizable debt burden Pantry Pride incurred because of the acquisition. "We're looking at all parts of the business," Rand said of Revlon.
In acquiring Revlon, Pantry Pride topped a rival offer from Forstmann Little & Co., a privately held New York investment firm whose offer had been embraced by Revlon.
Under the Forstmann Little-Revlon agreement, Revlon planned to sell Norcliff Thayer and Reheis Chemical, another Revlon unit, to American Home Products Corp. for $335 million to help Forstmann Little finance its purchase of Revlon.
However, the Forstmann Little purchase was effectively blocked by the Delaware Chancery Court, which rejected a separate option Revlon granted to Forstmann Little to buy two other Revlon units if another suitor tried to acquire Revlon.
The court ruling cleared the way for Pantry Pride to complete its offer to buy Revlon.
New York-based American Home Products also is a leading consumer-products concern. Company spokesman John Wood declined comment when asked if American Home Products was still negotiating to buy Norcliff Thayer.