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Beauty Beat: Coty Names U.S. Division President… KKR, Pessina Group Raise Stake in Boots

Coty Inc. made two big moves on Monday, appointing George Cleary president of its Coty Beauty U.S. division and naming Oscar-winning actress Kim Basinger to be the face of a new Lancaster skin care line.

Coty Inc. made two big moves on Monday, appointing George Cleary president of its Coty Beauty U.S. division and naming Oscar-winning actress Kim Basinger to be the face of a new Lancaster skin care line.

Cleary, a former Johnson & Johnson executive, is taking the reins of Coty Beauty U.S. today, the firm announced. The appointment came five months after John Galantic left to become U.S. chief operating officer of Chanel Inc.

He will be responsible for managing all Coty brands carried in broad distribution in the U.S. and will develop new business ventures and collaborations for the division, the company said in a statement. The appointment is intended to further strengthen the overall leadership of Coty Beauty, the business unit that combines Coty’s mass market operations in the Americas, Europe and Asia. He will report to Hans Joachim Honigfort, president of Coty Beauty.

“Cleary’s proven success, best-in-class training and entrepreneurial strengths will build upon Coty’s culture of Faster, Further and Freer,” Honigfort said in the statement.

Coty noted Cleary’s experience in general management, sales and marketing and “extensive knowledge of the health and beauty industry.”

Before joining Coty, Cleary, who was not available for comment, spent 15 years at J&J, where he worked on the Aveeno, Clean & Clear and ROC skin care brands. Most recently at J&J, he headed the health care giant’s customer and business development operations outside the U.S., focusing primarily on the Chinese, Russian and Brazilian markets. He also worked as managing director of Johnson & Johnson Caribbean.

Cleary’s career began in sales and trade marketing with Nestlé.

Meanwhile, Coty’s selection of Basinger comes as the actress is in the news because of a contentious child custody battle with her ex-husband, actor Alec Baldwin, over their 11-year-old daughter, Ireland.

It is the first time that Basinger, who has appeared in about 40 films, including “L.A. Confidential,” for which she won a best supporting actress Oscar, and “Batman,” has fronted a treatment brand. The new Lancaster line is due out worldwide this fall, except for the U.S.

“The honesty of Lancaster’s philosophy is what attracted me to this particular line of skin care,” Basinger said in a statement.

This story first appeared in the April 24, 2007 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

The 53-year-old actress is the latest mature celebrity spokeswoman to be signed by a beauty brand. Jane Fonda and Diane Keaton have joined with L’Oréal Paris and Raquel Welch with MAC.

Coty Prestige, Lancaster’s parent company, said Basinger is the ideal woman to epitomize the brand’s philosophy: “Add life to age and not age to life.”

“Lancaster’s new skin care range is a unique and different approach to skin care, and Kim Basinger is the perfect and emblematic image for this breakthrough innovation,” Michele Scannavini, president of Coty Prestige, said in a statement.

Details of the brand’s skin care line were not divulged, but the company said the products’ print advertising campaign will bow in October.  Michelle Edgar and Ellen Groves

KKR, Pessina Group Raise Stake in Boots

LONDON — They may not have sealed the deal to acquire Alliance Boots last Friday, but Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. and Stefano Pessina upped their stake in the firm nonetheless.

AB Acquisitions Ltd., the company formed by KKR and Pessina to acquire the U.K. pharmacy chain and pharmaceuticals wholesaler, snapped up a 1.18 percent stake in Alliance Boots on Friday to bring their total holding to 16.9 percent.

Pessina, who is Alliance Boots’ executive deputy chairman, already held 15.05 percent of the company. AB Acquisitions is working with Ornella Barra, Pessina’s partner and Alliance Boots’ wholesale and commercial affairs director, who has a 0.06 percent share; Merrill Lynch, which holds 0.15 percent, and Citigroup Global Markets Ltd., which controls 0.46 percent.

As reported, KKR and Pessina’s 10.6 billion pound, or $21.25 billion at current exchange, takeover bid for Alliance Boots was potentially thwarted last week, when a rival consortium said it may trump their joint offer. Private equity firm Terra Firma, banking group HBOS and medical research charity the Wellcome Trust announced an “indicative proposal” of 11.26 pounds, or $22.57, per share, which would be reduced to 11.15 pounds per share, or $22.35, after taking into account a break fee. That consortium is continuing due diligence.

Alliance Boots’ board is backing KKR and Pessina’s offer of 10.90 pounds, or $21.85, per share. — Brid Costello