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P&G acquires razor edge

Jan. 28: Buy a pack of Pampers diapers and take two Duracell batteries free!

This wouldn't have been possible until yesterday, but tomorrow ' who knows'

Procter & Gamble Co. is buying out Boston-based Gillette Company in a $57-billion deal that unites two iconic US producers of household goods from Pampers to Duracell.

Both are present in India and will now bring their combined impact to bear on competition, Hindustan Lever being the key rival.

Lever and P&G, a late entrant into India, have been locked in a price war in shampoos, detergents and personal care products.

Globally, the combined P&G-Gillette entity will boast more than $60 billion in annual revenues, overtaking Unilever NV as the world's largest consumer products company.

The merger would be the largest acquisition in the US since J.P. Morgan Chase acquired Bank One for $60 billion last year.

P&G will pay a premium of 18 per cent over prevailing market price for Gillette, best known for its razors.

In India, Gillette India chairman Saroj Poddar said the deal had 'come as a total surprise'. Gillette Company of the US has a 52 per cent stake in the Indian arm, formed almost 20 years ago.

A New York Times report said the overture for the deal had come from Gillette. If true, this means that Gillette had not kept Poddar in the loop while making the overture or during the talks.

Shantanu Khosla, country manager of P&G India, said: 'It is early to predict the impact of the Gillette acquisition on the P&G India business.'

The deal has the support of billionaire investor Warren Buffett, whose Berkshire Hathaway Inc. has a 9 per cent stake in Gillette.

'This merger is going to create the greatest consumer product company in the world,' Buffett, known as the Oracle of Omaha, said. 'It's a dream deal.'

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