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Coty Buys Unilever Fragrance Unit for $800 Million

NEW YORK — Coty Inc. said Friday that it has signed a deal to acquire Unilever’s global prestige fragrance business for $800 million, a move that some analysts say may catapult the company into the top five of global fragrance firms....

NEW YORK — Coty Inc. said Friday that it has signed a deal to acquire Unilever’s global prestige fragrance business for $800 million, a move that some analysts say may catapult the company into the top five of global fragrance firms.

Under the terms of the deal, Coty will make deferred payments to Unilever based on future sales performance.

The Unilever business brings a portfolio of designer fragrances, Calvin Klein, Curruti, Vera Wang, Chloe and Lagerfeld, to the deal. The unit, which posted 2004 sales of more than $600 million, will significantly bolster Coty’s $2 billion beauty business.

The deal furthers Coty’s strategy to increase prestige sales in the United States, Coty chief executive officer Bernd Beetz said at a news conference Friday. He added, that Unilever’s fragrance portfolio will also reinforce the company’s presence in Europe and give it a stronger foothold in Asia.

In addition to the perfume licenses, Coty will acquire a manufacturing and distribution center in Mt. Olive, N.J., and a distribution center in Lille, France.

The new fragrances will become part of the prestige division of Coty, Lancaster Group Worldwide.

Unilever marks the second major coupe for Coty, since Beetz joined the company in four years ago. In May 2003, the chief executive expanded the firm’s prestige stable when he added the beauty licenses of designers Marc Jacobs and Kenneth Cole to Lancaster’s portfolio.