SSL International P.L.C. has ended talks with one suitor of its Regent glove and antiseptic scrubs business and begun discussions with at least one other firm.
The latex and synthetic latex glove and condom maker had been in negotiations with a potential buyer-which according to reports in London was 3i Group, a private equity business-for a few months, but the companies could not agree on a price for the operation, an SSL spokesman said. ``While exclusive talks ended with one party, the company is now actively engaged in negotiation with another,'' he said.
He indicated more than one firm could be involved in current discussions but did not release names.
Failure to sell the medical product business was speculated in London publications as the reason Brian Buchan stepped down as SSL's chief executive April 1. No official reason was given by the firm or the chief executive, although the company indicated it was a joint decision between Buchan and SSL's board of directors. In a prepared statement, Buchan said it was time for him to move on. He was replaced by Gary Watts, financial director and managing director of the firm's European operations.
SSL is attempting to focus on over-the-counter consumer products, such as latex Durex condoms, Scholl foot care brands and Marigold household gloves, and sell its other businesses.
The company had hoped to find a buyer for the Regent glove and antiseptic scrubs business by the end of 2003 but talks dragged on through early 2004 before they stalled. The firm's new goal is to dispose of the operation by the end of April.
However, according to the spokesman, the sale price of the unit ultimately may be lower than the company originally expected, in part because of the decline in the value of the U.S. dollar. Regent's latex and synthetic latex glove sales are heaviest in the U.S.
While the disposal of the medical glove business has stalled, SSL has reached an agreement to sell its wound care management business to newly formed Medlock Medical Ltd. for about $100 million. The deal was expected to close March 31. Proceeds from the sale will be used to reduce the firm's loans.
Included in the sale are a production facility in Oldham, England, and a warehouse in North Manchester, England. About 244 employees will transfer to Medlock Medical.
Last November the company sold its Marigold industrial glove business to French glove maker Comasec S.A.S. but retained its Marigold consumer glove unit.