Procter & Gamble Kicks Off Sale of its Beauty Brands

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Procter & Gamble (P&G) has kicked off the sale of some of its beauty brands as the world’s biggest consumer-product maker seeks to shed laggard assets, people familiar with the matter said.

P&G has sent out sale documents to potential bidders for its Wella haircare unit, cosmetics brands and its fragrance business, according to the people, who asked not to be identified as the sale is not public. The businesses could be sold individually or combined, and could fetch as much as $19 billion altogether, said one of the people. P&G has reached out to potential buyers including Henkel, Revlon, Unilever, Kao, and Coty, the people said. Officials at P&G, Henkel, Revlon, Coty,and Kao declined to comment. Unilever did not immediately respond to requests to comment.

The sale is part of a plan, announced by CEO AG Lafley in August, to reinvigorate growth by divesting as many as 100 of the company’s slower-selling brands that account for about 10% of its $83 billion in revenue. The units on the block generate about $8 billion in annual sales and $1.5 billion in profit, Exane BNP Paribas estimates.

“P&G will likely announce the disposal of a meaningful part of its Beauty business over coming months,” Exane analyst Jeff Stent said in an April 8 note to clients. “European listed home- and personal-care companies will very likely be among the acquirers. We would be surprised if Henkel and Unilever do not acquire some assets.”

Alongside a potential sale, P&G is also exploring an initial public offering of some of its beauty brands, people with knowledge of the matter said in March. The troubled beauty division, which also includes the Pantene and Olay brands, is now led by David Taylor, who expanded his responsibilities earlier this year as Lafley streamlines the business.

P&G has been working with Goldman Sachs on a possible sale of Wella since at least December, people familiar with the discussions said at the time. More than half of Wella’s $2.8 billion in sales are generated from hair salons, a sales channel that has no connection with the rest of P&G’s business, Exane’s Stent said in the note. P&G is also considering selling part of the Wella business, one of the people said.

Dusseldorf, Germany-based Henkel, which owns Schwarzkopf shampoo, has as much as 4.5 billion ($4.9 billion) available for deals, and CEO Kasper Rorsted bought three US haircare businesses last year. Henkel bought a 6.9% stake in Wella in March 2003, only to see P&G acquire most of the voting shares two weeks later. Wella was founded by German hairdresser Franz Stroher in 1880.”We believe that the most likely acquirer is Henkel,” Stent said.

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