Global consumer goods giant Unilever offered to acquire cosmetics firm Carver Korea Co. famous for AHC beauty brand for 2.27 billion euros ($2.69 billion) to bolster its personal care line and expand market presence in Asia.
The Anglo-Dutch company said on Monday it agreed to buy a 96 percent stake in Carver Korea held by Bain Capital Private Equity, Goldman Sachs and Lee Sang-rok, the company’s founder and chairman.
The deal is the largest and the first foreign acquisition of a Korean cosmetics firm, underscoring Korea’s growing international reputation as a beauty powerhouse.
Goldman Sachs and Bain Capital in a consortium bought a 60 percent stake in Carver Korea for 430 billion won ($378.8 million) last year.
Unilever is said to have been eyeing Korea’s third largest cosmetics firm as its net profit nearly quadrupled last year to 132.4 billion won from 35.8 billion won in 2015.
Founded in 1999, Carver Korea started as an aesthetics company supplying products to beauty salons and gained broader consumer recognition via TV shopping channels. AHC hit jackpot with The Real Eye Cream for Face series that allow total facial care with a single eye cream at an affordable price.
Alan Jope, president of personal care division at Unilever, said the Carver Korea deal is “completely aligned to our personal care strategy” and would “significantly strengthen our position in North Asia.” AHC’s growing presence as a premium brand is expected to open up more opportunities for Unilever’s personal care business, he added.
But some question the deal to be overvalued. Last year, Carver Korea generated an operating profit of 180 billion won on sales of 429.5 billion won.
By Kang Da-young and Chun Gyung-woon
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