Deals, deals and more deals.
For the past five years, beauty M&A activity has been on fire, and 2019 proved to be no exception. While some of the deals were smaller — there were a lot of $5 million or $10 million raises, a result of smaller funds and venture capitalists moving into the space to provide capital to the influx of brands — beauty M&A continued its historic boom throughout the year.
On the large end, there were many billion-dollar moments.
At the tail end of the year, International Flavors & Fragrances Inc. inked a $26 billion merger with DuPont’s Nutrition and Biosciences business. Combined, those two business will become a major provider of ingredients to the food and beverage, beauty and supplements industries. The deal is expected to close in early 2021.
“[Wellness] is a very important part of it,” Andreas Fibig, chief executive officer of IFF, told WWD after the deal was announced. “We [will] have biotech capabilities we never had before, which is fantastic to come up with good molecules. We have capabilities to bring things together. Also a trend recently is beauty from within, and health, so the probiotic space plays an important role here as well.”
In another massive deal, Nestlé sold its Skin Health business, now renamed Galderma, to a consortium that included EQT, PSP Investments and a subsidiary of the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority in a deal valued at more than $10 billion.
Colgate paid 1.5 billion euros for Filorga, a prestige skin-care brand with exposure to the travel retail channel in Asia. That transaction cemented Colgate as a player in skin-care dealmaking, following the company’s purchase of EltaMD and PCA Skin in 2017. After four years of owning a minority position, the Estée Lauder Cos. Inc. acquired the rest of Dr. Jart+ parent company Have & Be Co. for $1.1 billion, at a $1.7 billion valuation. That deal marks Lauder’s first official acquisition in Asia.
Skin care and growth was top of mind for other dealmakers, too, and there were a handful of sizable transactions, as investors looked to capitalize on growth in the category and appetite for skin care in Asia.
“Filorga and Drunk Elephant are very good illustrators of growth being something that big names are after, with growth being the big reason why they are paying such high multiples,” said BNP’s Muriel Petit, who worked on the Filorga deal. She noted that the skin-care companies buyers went after in 2019 were all premium or luxury, positioning them well to look for growth in Asia.
Early in the year, L’Occitane International SA spent $900 million to take over Elemis.
Drunk Elephant — without a doubt the most-gossiped-about deal of 2019 — was purchased by Shiseido for $845 million after an auction process that included only strategic buyers. Tatcha, another indie skin-care darling, went to Unilever for close to $500 million.
There was also Gryphon’s carve-out of Roc from Johnson & Johnson; three French family offices’ investment in cult skin-care brand Biologique Recherche; Experience Capital’s deal for a majority stake in Swedish skin-care brand L:A Bruket, and Sofina purchase of a 45 percent stake in Groupe Nuxe.
In hair, Advent International acquired Olaplex, the pioneer of bond-building hair products, in a deal that is said to value the company at more than $1 billion. The Hut Group also took over Christophe Robin, the high-end hair brand.
There was also a $1.37 billion grooming deal, with Edgewell’s acquisition of Harry’s, the shaving start-up.
In terms of makeup M&A, there were a few notable deals — Coty Inc.’s purchase of a majority stake in Kylie Cosmetics at a $1.2 billion valuation, and General Atlantic’s acquisition of a majority stake in Morphe at a $2.2 billion valuation. Morphe plans to buy or incubate other brands in order to build out a broader business, and sources said that the end game for that business is likely an initial public offering. Additionally, Oriflame, a direct-selling business, was bought back by its founders for about $922 million, as it looks to revamp strategies outside of the public eye.
There was also Amorepacific and ACG’s respective minority investments in Milk Makeup, which took place at different points in the year. Amorepacific came in toward the end of the year, as Milk looks to branch into Asia through South Korea.
On the supply side, Firmenich took a 17 percent stake in Robertet, and Givaudan purchased Drom. Private equity firm Bain Capital also took a majority stake in Maesa, the private-label manufacturer and incubator behind Flower Beauty and Kristin Ess hair care. KDC-One continued its acquisition streak, most recently merging with packaging supplier HCT.
On a smaller scale, there were many early-stage investments in small but growing brands, many of which, leaned clean.
Lawless raised a Series A from Cult Capital. Ursa Major raised $5 million. Aquis raised $5 million. The Beauty Chef raised $10 million. Shani Darden raised money from BAM Ventures and Beechwood Capital, an early investor in Tatcha; Herbivore raised $15 million from Silas Capital; Silas also invested in clean makeup brand Ilia. Barbara Sturm is said to have taken an investment from One Luxury. Manzanita Capital invested in indie skin-care brand Susanne Kaufmann Kosmetik.
Some celebrities even got in on the action, putting their money to work in wellness oriented companies. Venus Williams invested in on-demand massage app Zeel, as well as personal-care brand Asutra, and Cameron Diaz invested in Modern Acupuncture.
Early in the year, Hilary Duff and Chelsea Handler invested in Nudestix.
While much of the beauty M&A was driven by growth and continued interest in the sector, there was also a fair amount of distress. Both parts of Avon — New and original — were sold, to LG Household & Health Care for $125 million and Natura. For Natura, the transaction, expected to close in early January now that it has cleared regulatory approvals, is transformative.
Looking forward, industry sources indicate that interest in skin care will remain high through 2020, and that it’s likely the small deals — small capital raises for early stage businesses — will continue.
“We’re in a phase where we need to see the current crop of little baby companies grow up. There’s an overwhelming amount of supply, and it’s getting harder to discern which ones will be scaleable,” said Andrew Shore, managing director at Moelis.
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