BERLIN — Henkel’s addition to the bidding battle for Wella Group has heated the simmering speculation about a possible Procter & Gamble takeover of the hair care giant to the boiling point.
On Tuesday, a leading German financial daily quoted a manager involved in the negotiations as saying: "A [P&G] offer is just a matter of days [away]." The paper further stated that most of the family controlling Wella is "now ready to sell."
The surprise disclosure late Monday that Henkel had acquired 6.86 percent of Wella — 4.99 percent of ordinary shares and 10.38 percent of preferred shares — added an unexpected twist. It is not known when Henkel, which reportedly made an informal $5.85 billion bid for Wella last October, acquired the shares. All dollar figures are calculated from the euro at the current exchange rate of about $1.10 per euro.
A Henkel spokeswoman would not add to the official statement regarding the Wella stake, which simply described it as "an interesting investment in light of current stock market conditions."
The descendants of Wella’s founder Franz Ströher hold about 78 percent of the company. In the past, they have been uninterested in a sale, but sources say their outlook has changed in recent weeks. The Ströher descendants fall into four family groups — Ströher, Ebert, Sander and Pohl — and observers now suggest that it is only the Ströhers, who control 25 percent of the stake, who are resisting a sale.
"There’s a big likelihood that P&G will make an offer in the next days," a German analyst told WWD. "There seems to be a willingness to sell, and it’s just a question of money." He said Wella would probably carry a $6.6 billion price tag, more than a 50 percent premium over Wella’s current market value of $4.2 billion.
"There’s a chance they can get the whole family to sell," he continued. "And should the Ströher group hold out with their 25 percent, P&G would still have a majority."
During the first nine months of 2002, Wella’s sales rose 6.3 percent to $2.66 billion, about 20 percent attributable to cosmetics and fragrances. Final figures for the year are expected April 8."The buzz is that a deal is definitely on the way," said another market analyst in Frankfurt. That is, he added, "if P&G really wants Wella. I’m not clearly convinced that they do." In his view, Wella is probably P&G’s second choice after Beiersdorf. However, Beiersdorf’s complicated share structure has so far nixed any takeover deal. Munich-based financial services conglomerate Allianz was shopping around its 43.6 percent Beiersdorf stake, but German coffee company Tchibo’s 30 percent "blocking minority" presented a seemingly unsurmountable obstacle.
The analyst suggested that P&G’s moves with Wella could be an attempt to jolt Allianz into action, with the message: "Hey, this is your last chance to sell," he said.
As for Henkel’s 6.86 percent stake, he said that in Henkel’s talks with Wella’s majority shareholders, Henkel may have discovered that the family was less opposed to sell than previously. "It may have seemed to make sense to hold a stake as a springboard to a future offer, or knowing that a bid was coming — a way of making a nice capital gain."
But it is unthinkable, he stated, that Henkel could outbid P&G should a bidding war ensue.
“Azzedine has been one of the biggest influences in my life. He has always been such a strong, loving, fatherly figure to me. I call him Papa. His designs are indescribably unique, they are pieces of art. He knew how to make the female form look its loveliest. I have so many memories of him; my favorite might be during my first show with him in Paris. He liked me and he wanted to help me get more work. He called all his friends at Kenzo and Comme des Garcons, and asked them to book me. They said, ‘But she can’t walk!’ And he said, ‘but she has such a great ass!' His friendship and support has been the great privilege of my career. I can't imagine life without him. Repose en paix mon Papa.” - @stephanieseymour tells @wwd. #wwdfashion (📷: @steveeichner) #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa, flanked by two of his closest friends, models Stephanie Seymour and Naomi Campbell.
He designed Seymour’s dress for her 1995 wedding to Peter Brant, and treated Campbell (who famously called him Papa), like a daughter. For more on the legendary designer, tap the link in bio. #wwdfashion #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa's “I-did-it-my-way” ethos stood out starkly at a time when brands are experimenting with consumer-facing fashion shows, coed formats and trans-seasonal collections – anything to perk up lackluster sales of ready-to-wear in an age of Insta-everything. “It’s not creation anymore. This becomes a purely industrial approach,” the late designer told WWD in an interview last year. “But anyway, the rhythm of collections is so stupid. It’s unsustainable. There are too many collections.” Read more about the iconic designer’s life and work on wwd.com, link in bio. #wwdfashion #azzedinealaia (📷: @WWD Archive, 1986) #alaia
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Azzedine Alaïa, one of the most iconic couturiers of the modern era whose body-con designs defined Eighties fashion, has died in Paris. The diminutive Tunisian-born designer, known for his structured knitted dresses with fitted waists and impeccably cut, figure-hugging second skin silhouettes was deeply admired by his peers, and counted supermodel Naomi Campbell - his adoptive daughter - among his inner circle, one of a gang of glamazons including Farida Khelfa, Carla Bruni and Stephanie Seymour who became ambassadors of his style. (📷: Alexandre Guirkinger) #wwdblast