Nestlé, the world's largest food company, is rumoured to be in negotiations to purchase baby food company Gerber Products from Swiss drug maker Novartis in a deal thought to be worth as much as US$5bn. However, the food giant has declined to respond to the reports.

Nestlé is already in negotiations with Novartis over the purchase of a medical-nutrition business. Nestlé is keen to make the acquisition of Gerber part of the same deal, a report in the Wall Street Journal said, citing sources familiar with the situation.

Nestlé was declined to comment on the report, while Novartis confirmed to just-food that it has received offers for the baby food business, but declined to provide further detail.