Talks between SSL International P.L.C. and an unspecified suitor have ended, but portions of the company remain on the selling block.
"We terminated discussions," a spokesman said, adding that it is business as usual at the London-based manufacturer of rubber latex and synthetic latex gloves and condoms.
SSL officials in mid-July disclosed they were holding acquisition talks with at least one company. Several firms' names surfaced as possible buyers-including conglomerate Kimberly-Clark Corp. in Dallas, England-based Reckitt Benckiser P.L.C. and pharmacy giant Boots Group P.L.C. of England.
Representatives from those firms wouldn't comment.
However, the unnamed firm made no offer to SSL, and the board of directors ended discussions, the company said in a Sept. 10 statement. "To prolong uncertainty any further is not in shareholders' interest," according to Chairman Ian Martin.
When acquisition talks drag on too long and the interested firm takes no formal action, it can be disruptive to the work force and stockholders, the spokesman said. "So we moved on."
Meanwhile, Martin said, during the negotiations SSL continued to build the business, including developing and launching successful new products. Those goods include a new line of condoms and a specialized insert for women's shoes.
The company will continue to cut costs whenever possible and build on the brands that make up its consumer business, including condoms, the firm said.
Martin noted that the sale of SSL's medical division and its Marigold industrial and household glove unit are proceeding on course "and will enable us to focus single-mindedly on exploiting the promise of our consumer business."
SSL put the Marigold operation up for sales in June 2002 and the medical division, which includes rubber latex and synthetic latex gloves, on the block in March 2003.
The company didn't say if any discussions are being held with prospective buyers, maintaining only that the disposal program is advancing well and "further announcement are expected in due course."