Reckitt Chinese Baby Formula Unit Is Said to Draw Bain, KKR Bids

Private equity firms including Bain Capital, Carlyle Group Inc. and KKR & Co. are among the first-round bidders for Reckitt Benckiser Group Plc’s infant-nutrition business in China, people with knowledge of the matter said.

Inner Mongolia Yili Industrial Group Co. and New Hope Dairy Co. also handed in preliminary bids, the people said, asking not to be identified as the information is private.

The U.K. firm aims to sell the infant nutrition unit for as much as $2 billion, one of the people said. Sequoia China, an investor in Junlebao Dairy Co., a dairy product maker based in China’s Hebei province, also submitted a bid, the person said.

Deliberations are ongoing, and the bids may not lead to a transaction, the people said. Representatives for Reckitt Benckiser, Bain, Carlyle, KKR, Sequoia China and Yili declined to comment. A representative for New Hope did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Reckitt put its infant-nutrition business in Greater China under strategic review in February as part of Laxman Narasimhan’s biggest portfolio revamp since he took over as chief executive officer in 2019. The maker of consumer brands such as Dettol bought Mead Johnson Nutrition Co. in 2017 for $16.6 billion.

— With assistance by Daniela Wei, Thomas Buckley, and Cathy Chan