Clarins Announces Plan to De-List Firm…

Groupe Clarins is on its way to becoming a privately held company.

PARIS — Groupe Clarins is on its way to becoming a privately held company.

During a press conference held here Monday morning, the Courtin-Clarins family — majority shareholders in Clarins — announced an offer worth 814.2 million euros, or $1.28 billion at current exchange, to take the company off the Paris Bourse. That would end an era that began in 1984, when Clarins first went public.

“The Courtin family wishes to de-list Clarins,” said Christian Courtin-Clarins, president of the firm’s supervisory board, who explained that to back the offer, his family took a loan from CM-CIC bank. “The market is short-term, sometimes even very short-term. The vision for our strategy for the group is more mid- and long-term.”

He said the company had looked into possible acquisitions, but that none was satisfactory in terms of price or complementarity. Further, Courtin-Clarins explained, there was just a small number of targets.

“We have decided to concentrate on what we know best — that’s to say, the activities of Clarins,” he continued. To do that, the firm will regularly invest in everything from products to research and distribution.

“The long period of rumors was a veritable catalyst for our decision,” continued Courtin-Clarins, adding one can’t run a company while being constantly under the weight of rumors and having to refute nonstop what was hearsay.

Courtin-Clarins was referring to months of speculation following the death of Clarins founder Jacques Courtin-Clarins, in March 2007, that sparked rumors the company would begin entertaining potential buyers. Speculation abounded that YSL Beauté, the beauty arm of PPR’s Gucci Group, would become part of Clarins. And until late January, when L’Oréal announced it had proposed to acquire YSL Beauté, there was buzz that PPR would offer its beauty division to Clarins in return for up to a 30 percent stake in the company and even a right of first refusal if the firm were eventually sold. All throughout, the Courtin-Clarins family steadfastly maintained its unwillingness to cede control of Clarins.

Courtin-Clarins reiterated Monday, “It is not the intention of the family to sell its stake but to implement the strategy well.”

As reported, Financière FC, the Courtin-Clarins family holding company, on Friday morning filed a tender offer with the Autorité des Marchés Financiers, France’s stock market watchdog, proposing to pay 55.50 euros, or $87.45, for each of the 14.7 million shares not already held by Financière FC. (This represents 36 percent of Clarins’ capital.) The price Clarins would pay corresponds to about a 30 percent premium on the stock’s average trading price over the last month. When the company suspended the stock’s trading early Thursday afternoon, the share price was 43.72 euros, or $68.89, up 1.67 percent versus Wednesday’s close.

This story first appeared in the July 1, 2008 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

The tender offer is slated to start July 18 and to end Sept. 5.

It is expected that Clarins stock will resume trading July 7, according to company executives.

Bankers are largely bullish on the offer. In a research note published Monday, for instance, Oddo Securities calls Clarins’ offer “seducing.”

— Jennifer Weil

L’Oréal Finalizes YSL Beauté Deal

PARIS — YSL Beauté now belongs to L’Oréal.

The French beauty giant announced Monday that it inked the definitive agreement with PPR for the effective transfer of YSL Beauté after obtaining the necessary authorization from all competition authorities. The deal is in accordance with the terms of the strategic agreement announced Jan. 23, and YSL Beauté was consolidated into L’Oréal’s accounts starting Monday.

As reported, L’Oréal had proposed to pay PPR 1.15 billion euros, or $1.81 billion at current exchange, for YSL Beauté Holding, including its Roger & Gallet subsidiary. YSL Beauté was part of the PPR subsidiary Gucci Group.

L’Oréal obtained an exclusive and very long-term worldwide license for the use of the YSL and Boucheron brands in the fragrance and cosmetics categories, under market conditions. Also under terms of the agreement, L’Oréal takes over YSL Beauté’s licenses for the Stella McCartney, Oscar de la Renta and Ermenegildo Zegna brands in the fragrance and cosmetics categories.

YSL Beauté is to become part of L’Oréal’s luxury products division, under the tutelage of its president, Marc Menesguen.

Ticking off the names of some of L’Oréal’s top brands — such as Lancôme, Biotherm and Parfums Giorgio Armani — Menesguen asserted that the YSL group would make a good fit. “We are convinced that the support of our research and our strong international presence will enable them to increase their global reach,” he said.

— J.W.

Shiseido Consolidates Finance Ops

Shiseido Co. Ltd. today implemented a strategy to consolidate the finance operations of three of its U.S. businesses — Shiseido Cosmetics (America) Ltd., Nars Cosmetics Inc. and ZIC Corp. — into its preexisting U.S.-based Shiseido International Corp. subsidiary.

In turn, the U.S. subsidiary has been renamed Shiseido Americas Corp. and the company has named a new chairman and chief executive officer of the subsidiary, Shoji Takahashi.

While the three business units already share operations like information technology, supply chain management and human resources — and now, finance — the sales and marketing operations for each will remain separate and a different ceo or president will head each entity.

The name of each business unit has also been changed. The Shiseido Cosmetics (America) Ltd. unit is now called Shiseido Cosmetics America and is led by ceo Heidi Manheimer. Nars Cosmetics Inc. is now known simply as Nars Cosmetics and at the helm is ceo Louis Desazars. The ZIC Corp. unit, which manufactures and markets John Varvatos fragrances, is now officially called JV Fragrance and Skincare and is headed by president Nicholas Ratut.

Manheimer, Desazars and Ratut now each report to Takahashi, the new chairman and ceo of SAC, which is the Oakland, N.J.-based holding company for the three business units.

Takahashi succeeds Shuichi Tanaka, a 35-year veteran of the company, who will retire at the end of the month. Takahashi, a 27-year veteran of the firm, was named corporate officer and board member in April. He has previously worked as general manager of Shiseido’s international product marketing department.

“This consolidation will be implemented as part of a strategy to increase the competitive strengths of the Shiseido Group and build a solid presence in the U.S.,” the company stated. “Consolidation will enable expeditious, strategic investment beyond individual subsidiary frameworks along with promoting management efficiency through the integration of business infrastructures.”

Each of the three preexisting business entities is to be dissolved during a period that will start this month and potentially continue through June of 2009. The process is expected to have minimal impact on the company’s overall results for the fiscal year, which ends in March.

— Koji Hirano and Matthew W. Evan

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