Nestlé Skin Health SA will become the majority owner of Proactiv as part of a deal with Guthy-Renker, which currently owns the acne-treatment skin-care line.
Nestlé Skin will acquire a majority stake in a joint venture with Guthy-Renker that will focus on the global consumer acne market and house Proactiv. Guthy-Renker will retain ownership of roughly 30 percent of that JV, according to a source with knowledge of the deal. The JV will focus both on selling Proactiv and developing additional additional, non-Proactiv acne-treatment products, and is aimed at furthering Proactiv’s global distribution, the source said.
Nestlé approached Guthy-Renker through its bankers at Credit Suisse at around the same time Guthy-Renker was considering finding a distribution partner to amp up global Proactiv distribution, a source said. Guthy-Renker’s investment bank, BDT, explored other options after Nestlé approached them, but ultimately chose the Nestlé transaction, the source said. As of today, the people who work for Proactiv are reporting to the joint venture instead of Guthy-Renker, according to the source.
Nestlé Skin conducts scientific research to develop skin, hair and nail products. It’s a unit of Nestlé, which owns about 23 percent of beauty giant L’Oréal. Nestlé created Nestlé Skin as a subsidiary in 2014 to expand into specialized medical skin treatments, the company said in a statement at the time. The JV transaction is subject to clearances and other closing conditions. Nestlé did not respond to requests for comment.
“Guthy-Renker intends to remain very creatively involved and collaborative,” said co-founder Greg Renker. “Some of what they have developed we can’t wait to get into the marketplace.”
“Their drive to deliver amazing beneficial acne formulas into the global marketplace, using each other as marketing partners, plus their motivation to market direct-to-consumer as a channel … is really inspiring to us,” Renker said. “We really feel like we have found a soul-mate partner … the difference is they’re massively resourced.”
WWD previously reported that Nestlé was in deal talks with Guthy-Renker for Proactiv. One source suggested that talks were slowed by negotiations surrounding a non-compete with Proactiv founders Katie Rodan and Kathy Fields.
Proactiv logged about $876 million in U.S. retail sales for 2014, according to data from Kline. One source estimated Proactiv had $1 billion in sales for 2015, and that a deal could be valued at as much as $2 billion. Nestlé paid less then $2 billion for the JV stake, said another source.
Dermatologists Rodan and Fields, who later founded the skin-care line Rodan + Fields, developed Proactiv in 1995. The brand’s acne-treatment regimen has been advertised by a slew of celebrity spokespeople, including Adam Levine, Olivia Munn and Sarah Michelle Gellar.
To target sales from different demographics, Proactiv updated its marketing strategy to cast a wider net, senior director of brand management for Guthy Megan Drogmund, said at the WWD Beauty Forum in February. The brand’s goal is to use authentic stories and different celebrities to create advertising spots of varying lengths and times for a broader consumer reach.
Santa Monica, Calif.-based Guthy-Renker is also behind X Out, Meaningful Beauty, Wen Hair Care, IT Cosmetics, Crepe Erase and Perricone Sub-D. The business made the WWD Beauty Inc Top 100 list with about $1.8 billion in estimated sales for 2014.