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Big names line up as speculation mounts over Clarins

By Simon Pitman , 28-Mar-2007

Following the death of Clarins founder Jacques Courtin-Clarins, Procter & Gamble is rumored to be just one of the potential buyers of the luxury France-based cosmetic player - one of the last remaining independently owned international cosmetic businesses.

Other companies said to be interested in the company include L'Oreal, Estee Lauder and LVMH, which were all listed by HBSC in a financial note, details of which were published by Bloomberg.



Since the death of Courtin-Clarins, late last week, share prices have climbed more than 10 per cent to reach their highest figure in four years, as speculation over the company's future mounts, despite strong indications that its executive committee is likely to remain under the family's control.



Courtin-Clarins founded Clarins 50 years ago, when he established skin care products to help people recover from post-operative scarring based on natural herbal and botanical ingredients.



The company portfolio now consists of well-known skin and hair care products such as Azzaro and Thierry Mugler, and a more recent extension into the male grooming market with the Clarins Men range.



Following the death of Courtin-Clarins, the group said this week that Alain Ferri, the company's vice-chairman will head the supervisory board until a new member is appointed, however, it is uncertain who the new permanent chairman will be.



Despite worries regarding who will take over the helm, main control of the company still lies firmly in the hands of the Clarins family, with Courtin-Clarins having handed over operational management to his eldest son in 2000, making his other son deputy manager.



Indeed, the family still owns over 65 per cent of its capital and 75 per cent of voting rights.



Despite the close family ties, keen speculation over the company's future boils down to the fact that it has built its reputation as the first personal care players to heavily promote natural and organic cosmetic products - currently one of the leading and most lucrative trends within the industry.



Euromonitor International estimates that the US market for natural and organic personal care products should hit an estimated $5.8bn by 2008, as growth continues at a rate of 9 per cent a year.

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