By and  on March 30, 2007

NEW YORK — The death of Jacques Courtin-Clarins on March 22 has sparked speculation that the company he founded, Groupe Clarins, may be entertaining potential buyers.

Industry watchers acknowledged that his passing could increase the chance of a strategic change for the Paris-based beauty firm, but said there is no way to know for certain. They also pointed out that the deluge of private equity firms interested in beauty has furthered speculation.

In a report released Monday, Sandy Beebee, an analyst at HSBC in New York, wrote, "Clarins' share price rose on news that company founder and chairman Jacques Courtin-Clarins passed away. Several press articles [Reuters and Bloomberg] cited that market traders are speculating that Clarins could be a takeover target. However, Christian and Olivier Courtin-Clarins are actively running Clarins, so we believe this speculation may not be warranted." Christian Courtin-Clarins serves as the firm's president and chief executive officer, and Olivier as vice president of research and development. Beebee added, however, that likely suitors would include Procter & Gamble and L'Oréal. A Procter & Gamble spokesman said the company does not comment on speculation. Clarins executives could not be reached for comment.

Earlier this week, Groupe Clarins named Serge Rosinoer chairman of the beauty firm's advisory board. He succeeds Jacques Courtin-Clarins.

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