Apr 2, 2012
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Coty launches $10 bn bid for rival Avon

Apr 2, 2012

NEW YORK - US cosmetics giant Coty on Monday launched a $10 billion offer for Avon, saying negotiations on a merger had failed and it was putting the matter to shareholders.

Avon nail polish / Photo: Avon

Coty said it "has decided to make its proposal public in order to inform Avon's shareholders of the significant value in a transaction" but added that "it has no intention of pursuing an acquisition on a hostile basis."

The cash offer of $23.25 per share "represents a very substantial premium of 27 percent over the three-month volume-weighted average price for Avon shares," Coty said in a statement, adding that it had made "extensive but unsuccessful attempts to engage Avon in discussions."

"Our objective is to engage in discussions with Avon and conduct due diligence so that we and Avon can together determine if there is a basis for a transaction. We believe Avon's shareholders would want their Board to explore with us the benefits to shareholders of a transaction," said Bart Becht, chairman of Coty, a privately held New York-based firm founded in 1904 by Frenchman Francois Coty.

Coty said in a letter to Avon chairman Andrea Jung that it had made "compelling proposals... that would provide full value to your shareholders."

"We were surprised and disappointed that Avon's board of directors has no interest in a discussion to explore our acquisition proposal."

Avon, with over $11 billion in annual revenue, rejected the Coty bid, saying it was "significantly below" the value of the "iconic consumer company."

The latest offer was much the same as the "opportunistic" one Coty made less than two weeks ago and not in the best interest of Avon shareholders, Avon said in a statement.

The door-to-door seller of beauty products reaffirmed its commitment to finding a new chief executive and pursuing a strategy that develops Avon's "strong long-term prospects."

Avon calls itself the world's largest direct seller, and markets to women in more than 100 countries through some 6.4 million independent representatives.

Coty has some $4.5 billion in annual revenues and includes cosmetics brands including Calvin Klein, Chloe, Marc Jacobs, Davidoff, Philosophy, OPI, Playboy, Sally Hansen, Adidas and Rimmel.

Its proposal is for a merged firm to be called "Avon Coty."

Shares in Avon leaped 19.3 percent to $23.09 in pre-market trade.

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