DEBENHAMS SETS IPO: Debenhams plc, the 123-store U.K. department store chain, said its was going ahead with an initial public offering that would value the retailer at around 3 billion pounds, or $5.3 billion. The IPO pricing includes 1.2 billion pounds, or $2.1 billion, of debt. The float would be one of the biggest on the London exchange this year. The firm said Citigroup and Merrill Lynch were coordinating the IPO. Texas Pacific Group, CVC Capital Partners and Merrill Lynch Global Private Equity "will retain significant shareholdings in Debenhams post-IPO and will commit not to sell any of their remaining holdings for at least 180 days," a company statement said. TPG, CVC, Merrill Lynch GPE and the management team at the retailer bought the firm in 2003 for 1.7 billion pounds, or about $3 billion.

CLARINS SALES GAIN: Groupe Clarins posted consolidated net sales of 238.3 million euros, or $293.6 million at current exchange, up 5.8 percent in the first quarter of 2006 year-on-year. The company's beauty business, comprising sales of skin care products and makeup, rang up 156.8 million, or $193.2 million, a 10.5 percent rise. Clarins' fragrances generated 81.5 million euros, or $100.4 million, a decrease of 2.2 percent in the period. The end of its distribution agreement with Procter & Gamble in the U.S. on Jan. 1 negatively impacted Clarins' fragrance turnout in the first quarter of 2006. On a like-for-like basis, the company's net fragrance sales rose 15.6 percent. At constant exchange rates, they rose 11.6 percent. Clarins said in a statement the quarterly results were "very satisfactory" and confirmed its full-year target of a 6 percent sales gain on a like-for-like basis over 2005.

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