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Marionnaud Said Sold To Firm in Hong Kong

PARIS — Marionnaud Perfumeries reportedly has been sold.<BR><BR>The ailing French perfumery chain was acquired by A.S. Watson, a Hutchison Whampoa Ltd. subsidiary, according to the Agence France Presse wire service here. <BR><BR>Neither...

PARIS — Marionnaud Perfumeries reportedly has been sold.

The ailing French perfumery chain was acquired by A.S. Watson, a Hutchison Whampoa Ltd. subsidiary, according to the Agence France Presse wire service here.

Neither Marionnaud executives in Paris nor Hutchison Whampoa executives in Hong Kong could be reached for comment.

With the addition of Marionnaud, Hutchison Whampoa — which already owns Watsons, Kruidvat, Trekpleister, Rossmann, Superdrug, Savers and Ici Paris XL in health and beauty retailing — would become one of the world’s largest, if not the largest, prestige fragrance sellers.

Marionnaud itself boasts more than 1,230 perfumeries.

As reported, the chain’s stock price lost more than 30 percent of its value on Dec. 21 following its posting of net results for the January-June 2004 period. Losses came in at $104.3 million, or 79 million euros, against net profits of $8.5 million, or 6.4 million euros in the first six months of 2003.

The perfumery chain’s first-half 2004 results were negatively impacted by changes in accounting methods concerning loyalty points and the correction of errors dating back to 2002 and 2003.

It was rumored that both Douglas and Galeries Lafayette were interested in buying Marionnaud. But on Dec. 27, it was Distripar SA that acquired a 5 percent stake in the French perfumery chain.

Marionnaud’s stock was suspended from trading on the Paris Bourse Tuesday in the run-up to an announcement regarding a “financial operation,” Marionnaud said in statement.

It is expected the deal with Hutchison Whampoa will be announced today.

The company, run by Li Ka-Shing, posted consolidated sales of approximately $18.6 billion, or 145 billion Hong Kong dollars, in 2003. Hutchison Whampoa is a diversified conglomerate with businesses in sectors such as telecommunications, hotels and manufacturing.

This story first appeared in the January 14, 2005 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.