Coty’s Next Move: Headed for an IPO

Wasting no time moving on from its bid for Avon Products Inc., the beauty firm has hired underwriters to prepare for an initial public offering.

NEW YORK — Coty Inc. hasn’t wasted any time moving on to plan B: The beauty firm has hired underwriters to prepare for an initial public offering.

This story first appeared in the May 17, 2012 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

Coty is said to have hired JPMorgan Chase and Bank of America as underwriters for an IPO, which WWD reported Wednesday was a possible next step for the company. A third underwriter is expected to be appointed but has not been set. Coty has not filed a shelf registration with the Securities and Exchange Commission yet; that could come within the next month or so now that underwriters have been hired.

A Coty spokeswoman declined to comment Wednesday. The appointment of underwriters was first reported by CNBC.

RELATED STORY: Coty Withdraws Bid for Avon >>

Coty is moving on from its aborted bid for Avon Products Inc., which it called off late Monday after Avon failed to meet Coty’s deadline for deciding whether to open its books.

WWD previously reported that Coty had spent several months working with another investment bank to actively prepare an IPO prior to making its initial bid for Avon in March. The financial community has long speculated about Coty’s interest in an IPO. The company has spent the last five years working to round out its product portfolio, which is heavy on fragrances, with skin care and cosmetics brands. In fact, in late 2010 alone, Coty bought OPI Products Inc., Philosophy Inc., Chinese skin care company TJoy and the German beauty brand Dr. Scheller Cosmetics AG, which includes the makeup line Manhattan. Further sparking chatter about an IPO, in January 2011, Coty received a cash infusion by two private equity firms, Berkshire Partners, based in Boston, and Rhône, which has offices in New York, London and Paris. An IPO could provide a logical exit strategy.

As for Avon, Coty’s decision to withdraw its bid has caused another wrinkle for the direct seller.

On Wednesday, the Los Angeles-based law firm Glancy Binkow & Goldberg LLP said it is investigating potential claims against the board of Avon Products Inc. for its “rejection of a proposal by Coty Inc. to acquire the company.”

In a statement, Glancy Binkow & Goldberg said its investigation “concerns whether the board of directors of Avon breached their fiduciary duties to stockholders by failing to pursue this opportunity, and whether the company has disclosed all material information to shareholders about the proposal. Coty’s offer would have provided shareholders with a premium of 27 percent over the three month volume-weighted average price per share. Given the company’s current troubles, including a bribery investigation, the 27 percent premium appears to be substantial.”