Nivea Owner Buys Coppertone Sun Care for $550 Million

(Bloomberg) -- American sunscreen brand Coppertone has a new owner, just in time for beach season.

Beiersdorf AG agreed to buy Bayer AG’s Coppertone brand of sun-care products for $550 million, bolstering a line of skin creams that already includes the Nivea brand.

The deal for the brand, which had sales of about $213 million last year, expands Beiersdorf’s presence in the U.S. Bayer said in November that it planned to sell Coppertone, Dr. Scholl’s and other businesses as it seeks to cut debt assumed in its $63 billion takeover of Monsanto.

The German drug and chemical company has been wrestling with fallout from that deal, which has saddled it with more than 13,000 lawsuits related to its weedkiller Roundup. Plaintiffs claim that it can cause cancer -- which Bayer denies. The company is also cutting thousands of jobs as it invests more heavily in a pharmaceuticals division that’s in need of new prospects in its pipeline of future medicines.

Shifting Market

The Coppertone deal comes at a time when scrutiny of sunscreens is heating up. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has called for more testing of their ingredients given how much they’re absorbed through the skin, and last summer Hawaii banned some sunscreens with ingredients that could harm coral reefs.

Disruption in the sunscreen space is also coming from startups. Brands like Supergoop and TropicSport offer products free of some of the most common active ingredients, like those associated with coral reef issues -- oxybenzone and octinoxate. And two other popular sunscreen brands -- Banana Boat and Hawaiian Tropic -- may get a boost from owner Edgewell Personal Care Co.’s deal with Harry’s Inc. last week that could lead it to more of a direct-to-consumer model.

Beiersdorf said it planned to complete the Coppertone purchase in the third quarter. The company overhauled its management last year by naming a new chief executive officer, Stefan De Loecker, who started in the role on Jan. 1.

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