Energizer buying Playtex

NEW YORK —In a surprising move, Energizer is buying Playtex for $1.16 billion in a deal that will broaden the merchandise slate of a company best known for batteries.

The deal, announced July 15, was approved by the boards of both companies and will include an assumption of debt from Playtex that would boost the price of the deal to $1.9 billion. The deal will give Energizer a much wider presence in the health and beauty sector, but does not include Playtex Apparel, a separate division that produces bras and other apparel.

Energizer chief executive officer Ward Klein said Playtex is a good fit for the company, noting that it holds a No. 1 or No. 2 market-share position in its key product areas and has excellent brand recognition.

“We see Playtex as an exceptionally great fit with Energizer, with similar customers and distribution channels in the United States and Canada, and the opportunity for geographic expansion in many other areas of the world where we currently do business,” Klein said.

Playtex will help Energizer raise its profile in skin care products and add several name brands to its portfolio. They include the Banana Boat sunscreen and skin care line and Hawaiian Tropic, a brand Playtex acquired earlier this year.

And the deal will boost Energizer’s presence in drug store aisles the same way its purchase of Schick Wilkinson did. Energizer bought the world’s second-largest supplier of shaving products in 2003 and has grown its sales more than 50 percent since then to nearly $1 billion in annual sales.

Klein noted that the deal presents Energizer with “significant integration and cost reduction opportunities” but did not say whether they would impact jobs. Playtex employs about 1,800 workers.

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