PARIS — Speculation surrounding a possible takeover of Groupe Clarins by PPR percolated again, causing Clarins' stock to close up 8 percent to 64.71 euros, or $94.86 at current exchange, on the Bourse here Monday.

Clarins' stock rose 13.4 percent at its highest level during the course of trading that day.

An article published Monday in the weekly financial newsletter La Lettre de l'Expansion states a deal should be formalized between PPR and Clarins before the end of this month. It adds that the manufacturing of Clarins' fragrances, including the Thierry Mugler and Azzaro brands, could be integrated into that of YSL Beauté, PPR's beauty division.

Pierre Milet, Clarins' secretary general, would not comment on the report. A PPR spokeswoman also declined comment.

Clarins has been ample fodder for the rumor mill of late, keeping its stock on an upward trajectory. And PPR is repeatedly said to be a suitor. (In October, for instance, it was reported that PPR might buy up to a 30 percent stake in Clarins.) But PPR is not the only possible interested party to be named in the recent past.

Rumors have circulated that L'Oréal might bid for Clarins. Just last week, the French beauty giant's announced intention to sell approximately 1.8 percent of its share capital in pharmaceutical giant Sanofi-Aventis (potentially freeing up an estimated 1.55 billion euros, or $2.3 billion) started tongues wagging again. And, as reported, speculation resurfaced in September that L'Oréal might bid for Clarins, causing a lather of excitement in the market.

Procter & Gamble Co., the Estée Lauder Cos., Shiseido and Beiersdorf AG are among other company names being bandied about by industry sources as possible Clarins acquirers.

The subject of a Clarins takeover remains a perennial market favorite. The company is viewed as an attractive takeover target due to its niche positioning.

Rumors of a Clarins buyout surged this summer, following the death of Clarins founder Jacques Courtin-Clarins this March, since it was well known he opposed the sale of his company. Other fuel has been added to the rumor mill, since Clarins has come out with somewhat disappointing numbers recently. Last month, Clarins reiterated that its operating margin will remain under pressure in the second half of this year. Its business in the U.S. remains difficult, and the Clarins brand presidents in New York and Paris recently exited the company.The Courtin-Clarins family controls 65.1 percent of Clarins' capital and 78.6 percent of its voting rights. The family has steadfastly maintained in the past that the company is not for sale.
— Jennifer Weil

Neutrogena Signs Diane Lane

NEW YORK — Neutrogena has signed actress Diane Lane to be an ambassador for the brand.

Lane began appearing in TV commercials for the brand Monday, and her first spot featured Neutrogena's Healthy Skin Rejuvenator, a treatment appliance designed to soften and firm the skin.

Lane joins Jennifer Garner, Kelly Preston, Hayden Panettiere, Gabrielle Union, Susie Castillo and Vanessa Anne Hudgens as representatives of Los Angeles-based Neutrogena, which is owned by health care giant Johnson & Johnson and markets acne, makeup, sun, skin and body care products in the mass market.

Jim Colleran, president of Neutrogena U.S., said in a statement, "Diane Lane epitomizes our mission through her candid, relevant voice and innate beauty."

Lane, 42, made her first stage appearance at age six and was nominated for an Academy Award for her role in the 2002 film "Unfaithful." Next year, she will appear in "Untraceable" (January) and "Nights in Rodanthe" (June).

In August 2006, Lane appeared in print ads for Procter & Gamble-owned Pantene's Beautiful Lengths campaign of public service announcements to promote cancer awareness. Lane cut off 8 to 10 inches of her hair (the required length to make a wig) in July 2006 and donated it for a wig.

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