Clarins, PPR Deal Speculation Showing No Signs of Ceasing

PARIS — The buzz surrounding a possible deal between Groupe Clarins and PPR is reaching a deafening pitch here.

On Tuesday, it was reported that France's stock market watchdog, l'Autorité des Marchés Financiers, asked Clarins and PPR to explain recurrent reports of a pending agreement.

France's Le Figaro daily newspaper reported on Tuesday — without disclosing its sources — that discussions are taking place between Clarins and PPR executives. The paper said the talks hinge on Clarins being offered PPR's beauty division, YSL Beauté, in exchange for PPR getting a minority stake in Clarins.

In another report Tuesday, an AMF spokeswoman said her organization does not comment on individual cases, but that it is typical for the AMF to be in contact with publicly traded companies in the press. A PPR spokeswoman would not comment on whether PPR had been approached by the AMF. And Clarins executives could not be reached for comment because they are in Macau, China, for the week on business.

Clarins' stock price closed down 3.5 percent to 58.90 euros, or $87.38 at current exchange, on the Paris bourse Tuesday. PPR's stock price dipped almost 4 percent to 110.63 euros, or $164.13.

— Jennifer Weil

Miles Exits Bare Escentuals

NEW YORK — Diane Miles has stepped down from her post as president of Bare Escentuals Inc., the company said in a statement Monday.

News of her departure sent shares of Bare Escentuals down 9.24 percent on Tuesday, to close at $21.03 in trading on the Nasdaq.

The mineral makeup firm has begun to search for a senior vice president of wholesale sales to assume Miles' former responsibilities.

Miles joined Bare Escentuals as president in May 2006, charged with overseeing sales and marketing efforts and expanding the brand domestically and abroad. Prior to joining the firm, she held a variety of positions at LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, including the post of chief executive officer of Benefit Cosmetics and the posts of senior vice president of marketing and marketing director of LVMH's Christian Dior apparel brand. Miles began her career at L'Oréal and held several management positions for Lancôme, Biotherm and Vichy.Bare Escentuals ceo Leslie Blodgett stated, "Diane played a significant role over the past year and a half, which contributed to our sales and staff growth. We sincerely appreciate her hard work and her dedication to Bare Escentuals and wish her well as she moves on to seek new challenges." Blodgett noted that wholesale and international sales and marketing personnel will report to her and Jim Taschetta, the firm's chief marketing officer, until a replacement for Miles is found.

— Molly Prior

Parfum d'Image in Deal for Latitudes

PARIS — French private label beauty manufacturer Parfum d'Image Group has agreed to acquire Latitudes International Fragrance, an American creator of private label fragrances.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Parfum d'Image, based in Levallois-Perret, France, brokered the agreement to acquire the Los Angeles-based firm through its U.S. subsidiary, Parfum d'Image Inc.

Parfums d'Image, which manufacturers private label beauty products for Asda in the U.K., Nocibé in France and Jean Coutu in the U.S., generated sales up nearly 28 percent to 26 million euros, or $34.6 million at average exchange, for the fiscal year ended Sept. 30 versus the same prior-year period.

The acquisition of Latitudes is expected to bring Parfum d'Image Group's sales to 41 million euros, or $60.8 million at current exchange. The company said it targets sales of 100 million euros, or $148.4 million, by 2010.

Founded in 1994, Latitudes specializes in the manufacture of private label home fragrances and personal scents for brands including Old Navy, Pier 1, Bath & Body Works and Ralph Lauren. Based on Parfum d'Image's fiscal year, Latitudes generated sales of more than $22 million.

Parfum d'Image Group has been on the acquisition trail of late. In February, it acquired its main French competitor, Essens, whose clients included Franck Provost, Pimkie and La Redoute.

— Ellen Groves

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