ZURICH, Jan 10 (Reuters) - Nestle is the frontrunner to buy Merck KGaA's consumer health unit that could fetch as much as $5 billion, financial news service Bloomberg said on Wednesday, quoting unidentified sources familiar with the matter.
Bloomberg said Nestle had submitted the highest offer and Merck was likely to select a winner during the first quarter, but might also choose not to sell the assets after all.
It quoted sources saying that generic drugmaker Perrigo and the private equity owners of German drug firm Stada had dropped out of the process, while Reckitt Benckiser Group Plc and Mylan NV were still suitors for the business.
A spokeswoman for Nestle said the company was not commenting on rumours. (Reporting by Silke Koltrowitz; Editing by Mark Potter)