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Estée Lauder Said to be Eyeing South Korean Brands

American Beauty giant said to be looking at two firms as possible acquisition targets in red hot South Korea.

PARIS — Is the Estée Lauder Cos. Inc. feeling “Gangnam Style”?

According to market sources, the American beauty giant is on the verge of acquiring two South Korean beauty labels, signaling the potent attraction of the ultratrendy Asian nation.

A Lauder spokeswoman, responding to the speculation, said the company “does not comment on rumors.”

It is believed one of the brands of interest to Lauder is Too Cool for School, which sells color cosmetics, face and body care, fragrance and makeup tools and was begun in 2009 by Todacosa Co. Ltd. One year later, Too Cool for School Corp. was established.

The brand, targeting teens and twentysomethings, has its own retail concepts, as well.

Lauder is also said to be eyeing another, specialized South Korean beauty brand — possibly with a focus on eyebrows. The identity of that firm could not be learned.

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Although Lauder declined comment on the latest speculation, the company has been on a shopping spree lately. It completed the acquisition of indie skin-care line Glamglow and purchased artisanal fragrance brand Editions de Parfums Frédéric Malle in the first quarter. Those purchases marked the third and forth niche brands the firm acquired over the last six months. Lauder is also said to be in talks to potentially acquire Too Faced.

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Although he did not discuss specifics, Lauder president and chief executive officer Fabrizio Freda cited his criteria for potential acquisitions during a recent investors’ call, saying they need to be winning brands, fit the company’s priorities and fill white space within the portfolio.

Lauder has been growing — due to acquisitions —  by 1 percent a year in sales.

South Korean beauty brands have swiftly been gaining interest in the U.S. As reported, a number of them are set to launch Stateside soon, including BRTC, Belif, Touch in Sol and The Skin Lounge.

South Korean beauty companies, like AmorePacific, have been making waves in China, too

South Korea’s perception as a technological innovator — the country launched the BB Cream craze — and its celebrity influence is helping the business boom, especially in the midrange beauty market.