Revlon’s appointment of Colgate-Palmolive’s Fabian Garcia as chief executive officer may indicate that the company’s prospective sale process is on the back-burner.
The sale of Revlon has been rumored since majority owner MacAndrews & Forbes made a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission in January saying it would consider strategic alternatives — essentially saying a sale could be an option. But with a new ceo in place, beauty industry players said it’s unlikely a deal is imminent.
“Traditionally, the hiring of a new, permanent ceo would signal the end of a strategic review or sale process,” said William Susman, managing director of boutique advisory firm Threadstone Partners. “I would suspect Revlon continues to want to drive shareholder value, but that can be achieved by selling the company for a premium or having a strong ceo drive growth and margin. As the chief operating officer of Colgate, one of the strongest personal-care companies in the world, Fabian Garcia should be a positive to drive significant share price appreciation.”
Sources expect Garcia was chosen for his experience in international markets — a sentiment that Revlon chairman Ronald Perelman, also ceo of MacAndrews & Forbes, echoed: “Fabian’s deep experience and expertise in global consumer product sales will not only help enhance the growth in sales that Revlon has seen over the past year but also drive expansion into new markets across the globe.”
Garcia, 56, is set to join Revlon April 15. He’s been at Colgate for more than 13 years, currently as chief operating officer of global innovation and growth. He’s led the company’s businesses in Asia-Pacific, Eurasia, Latin America and Europe, as well as the Hill’s Pet Nutrition operation. Before Colgate, he worked at Timberland Co. managing international operations. He also was president of Chanel in the Asia-Pacific region, responsible for the brand’s fashion, fine jewelry and watches, and fragrance and beauty lines in the region. Garcia also worked at Procter & Gamble Co., ending his time there as president of the Max Factor business in Japan and Asia-Pacific.
“He looks like window dressing for the eventual sale of the company,” said industry consultant Allan Mottus. “Revlon’s business in Asia can be helped by him, giving him and the company the necessary kudos when selling it.”
International markets made up about 45 percent of Revlon’s net sales for 2015. Revlon products are sold in about 130 countries, and the beauty firm has operations based in 22 countries, according to a filing with the SEC. For 2015, international sales made up $870.6 million of Revlon’s $1.91 billion in net sales — down 5.3 percent from $919.1 million for 2014 — while U.S. sales came in at $1.04 billion. If foreign currency exchange rates are taken into account, Revlon’s international sales were up 7.9 percent, according to the company.
Garcia’s appointment comes roughly a month after former Revlon ceo Lorenzo Delpani resigned for “personal reasons.” Revlon is also down a chief financial officer.
The company’s transitioning C-suite could affect it at the retail level, where other brands could see the executive shifts as an opportunity for a shelf-space takeover. One drugstore beauty executive noted Garcia’s Chanel and Max Factor background, and was happy to see beauty experience.
Other beauty players agree the appointment seems to be a good one. One financier noted that the color cosmetics vertical is different from other consumer goods businesses: “The product cycles are totally different…but good ceo’s, frankly, are good ceo’s.”
“At least on paper, he looks good,” said another source. “What I think is going to be really good is going to be the morale,” the source said. “The Colgate people are all good team players…a “Kumbaya” type of thing. If he’s in that mold, it’s going to be very good for the organization.”
Investors seemed to be sending a message that they would have much preferred a sale of the company. When Revlon said it was doing a strategic review for the business, shares of Revlon rose as investors placed their bets that a sale was in the works. In Monday’s trading session, shares of Revlon fell 3.75 percent to close at $34.64 in New York Stock Exchange trading. Before the strategic alternatives announcement, shares dipped to $24.50 on Jan. 13.
Some executives remain doubtful that Perelman will sell at all. One financier specializing in mergers and acquisitions who is “friendly” with the situation said, “I seriously have questions as to whether Perelman ever wants to sell the business. Revlon is his baby.”
Reports have circulated that the reason MacAndrews & Forbes filed the note with the SEC was because Revlon had been approached by a strategic buyer, a detail MacAndrews & Forbes would not confirm. Other reports have suggested that Revlon’s put Almay in play, and others still, have suggested Perelman may consider taking the company private.