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Court Approves Forma Brands Sale

The beleaguered business entered Chapter 11 bankruptcy in January.

The proposal for Forma Brands, the parent company of Morphe and Lipstick Queen among others, to be acquired by lenders has been approved by a bankruptcy court, legal documents showed.

Forma Brands filed for voluntary Chapter 11 bankruptcy in mid-January in a Delaware court as the business struggled to tread water. At the time, the beleaguered company entered into a deal with lenders including Jefferies Finance and Cerberus Capital Management, under which substantially all of Forma Brands’ assets, including wholesale operations, online platforms and Morphe stores (all now shuttered), were set to be acquired.

The proposed deal received court approval this week for $690 million in debt relief.

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Parent company Forma, which did not immediately respond to request for comment Thursday, was formed in 2020 as part of the business’ diversification efforts. Prior to that, General Atlantic had acquired a 60 percent stake in Morphe in 2019, which was at the time a popular brand run by brother and sister Chris and Linda Tawil that grew in large part due to partnerships with influencers. At the time of the deal, Morphe was said to be doing about $500 million in net sales, with about $130 million in earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization and the deal valued the company at $2.2 billion.

But then several factors occurred that weighed on Morphe’s performance. First, COVID-19 struck, leading color cosmetics sales to decline industrywide. Then Morphe cut ties with Jeffree Star and James Charles amid allegations of inappropriate behavior. Plus, supply chain issues plagued the business.

As part of diversification efforts, the business launched a sub-brand, Morphe 2, and made several acquisitions, including Lipstick Queen and Playa, and incubated brands, including Bad Habit. Last March, former Too Faced executive Eric Hohl joined Forma as chief executive officer, taking over from Myles McCormick, who led the business through its growth era. Hohl was president at Too Faced when General Atlantic sold it to the Estée Lauder Cos. for $1.45 billion in 2016. But all these measures were not enough to prevent it from filing for bankruptcy.

When the deal with lenders was first proposed in January, Simon Cowell, president of Forma Brands, said, “We will have additional financial resources available to invest in our multicategory portfolio, product launches and innovative brand and marketing strategy as we advance our vision to inspire creativity, promote inclusivity and connect with consumers around the world through beauty.”