Credit: Werneuchen/Wikimedia

Reckitt's KY Jelly rendezvous comes up against friction

Could the consumer goods giant be forced to pull out before completion?

by Jack Torrance
Last Updated: 15 Dec 2015

Durex owner Reckitt Benckiser's (RB) proposed acquisition of KY-Jelly has found itself in slippery territory. The consumer goods giant, which also owns Calgon, Nurofen and Cillit Bang, announced plans to snap up the lubricants brand from Johnson & Johnson back in March 2014, but has faced a thorough probe from the Competitions and Market Authority.

Today the regulator said Durex and KY have a 75% market share in Britain's supermarkets and national pharmacies, and that it was concerned that prices could surge if the two brands hooked up. 

'Consumers and retailers differentiate between these 2 products to some extent,' said the inquiry's chair Phil Evans, who apparently managed to resist the urge to make any puns. 'However, on balance, there seems to be enough of an overlap in the market for personal lubricants for there to be a realistic prospect of consumers facing less competition and possibly higher prices if the 2 biggest brands come under single ownership.'

The CMA proposed a number of remedies, including RB not buying KY's British division or it licensing out the brand for other companies to use as well. It will publish its final decision on whether the brands can consummate their relationship in August.

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