BODY SHOP BID RACE HEIGHTENS

Byline: Samantha Conti / with contributions from Jennifer Weil, Paris

LONDON — Two major bidders appear to have emerged for the troubled U.K. beauty manufacturer and retailer, The Body Shop International PLC.
According to press reports here, Paribas Affaires Industrielles, the French venture capital business, and Texas Pacific Group, the American leveraged buyout fund that relaunched Ducati Motorcycles and controls the luxury accessories company Bally, seem to be the frontrunners in the contest.
A Body Shop spokeswoman, however, called the latest reports that appeared in The Sunday Telegraph “purely market speculation” and declined to comment further.
In early October, after it published weak six-month profits, down to $3.7 million from $9.7 million year-on-year, translated at current exchange rates, Body Shop confirmed it was in preliminary discussions with a number of companies, including several British financial institutions and venture-capital firms, about a possible bid for the company. The Body Shop engaged in talks with the Mexican health products company Omnilife and the U.K.’s Lush about acquisitions last summer, but sources said they came to nothing.
The recent reports said Paribas has launched a takeover bid, which could value the business at up to $356.4 million.
To oversee its bid, Texas Pacific has reportedly recruited Adrian Bellamy, the Body Shop’s American business partner and member of the Gap and Gucci’s supervisory boards.
Paribas did not return phone calls, while Texas Pacific could not be reached for comment.

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