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McCormick & Co. has agreed to acquire the food business of UK-based Reckitt Benckiser for $4.2 billion, beating out rival bids from companies like Unilever and Hormel Foods. Included brands are French's Mustard and Frank's Red Hot.

Why it matters: This deal would make McCormick the world's third-largest condiment purveyor (behind Unilever and Kraft Heinz), up from 10th place currently. And it's paying through the nose to get there, as recent reports had the Reckitt business selling for closer to $2.4 billion. For more context, the $4.2 billion price-tag represents more than 7x annual sales and 20x EBITDA, compared to Bernstein market averages of 3.3x sales and 16.2x EBITDA (per Reuters).

M&A context: McCormick last year pulled a $2.1 billion offer to buy Premier Foods, so this is a bit of a rebound. Reckitt had put the business on the block, in part, to reduce a massive debt-load created by its recent $16.6 billion agreement to purchase Mead Johnson.

Bottom line: "While large food manufacturers struggle as consumers shun packaged foods in favor of fresher, more nutritious items, this deal allows McCormick to capitalize on the public's desire to eat better without losing the flavor and taste they covet." – Christopher Doering, FoodDive

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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

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Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata
1 hour ago - Economy & Business

Trump blocks banks from limiting loans to gun and oil companies

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Big banks are no longer allowed to reject business loan applicants because of the industry in which they operate, according to a new rule finalized on Thursday by the Trump administration.

Why it matters: Wall Street has curtailed its exposure to industries like guns, oil and private prisons, driven by both public and shareholder pressures. This new rule could reverse that trend.

Former FDA commissioner: "Reliable drug supply is absolutely critical"

Axios' Caitlin Owens and former FDA commissioner Mark McClellan. Photo courtesy of Axios Events

Having a reliable supply of pharmaceutical drugs throughout America will be "absolutely critical" to boosting affordability in health care during the Biden administration, former Food and Drug Administration (FDA) commissioner Mark McClellan said at a virtual Axios Event on Friday.

The big picture: McClellan, who served under President George W. Bush, says drugs having limited supply and limited competition leads to elevated pricing. He considers drug supply to be a national security and public health issue.