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Clarins vows to stay independent and eyes acquisitions

By Simon Pitman , 23-Nov-2007

Clarins' chief executive says the company intends to remain independent, quashing rumours that have linked it to some of the biggest names in the business as potential buyers.

Company CEO Christain Courtin-Clarins said in an interview with French newspaper Le Figaro, "All the competition is interested in Clarins, they have made offers, but freedom does not have a price. We will remain our own governors".

 

 

The article, published yesterday, ran with the headline, 'Clarins would prefer to make acquisitions to being acquired', highlighting the fact that Courtin-Clarins intends to grow the company by being acquisitive itself.

 

 

 

Courtin-Clarins, who is the son of company founder Jacques Courtin-Clarins, who died back in March of this year, says that he will fiercely battle to maintain the family stake in the business and to retain its independent status.

 

 

 

Currently Christian Courtin-Clarins maintains a 65 per cent stake in the business, along with his brother Olivier, who is responsible for the company's research and development.

 

 

 

Christian-Clarins told the newspaper that he is not intimidated by the speculation and the fact that the competition is publicly eyeing the business.

 

 

 

Indeed, he added the business could mobilise around €800m for future investments, indicating that the United States could prove a focus for an acquisitions in the production arena, given the favourable exchange rates against the euro.

 

 

 

Procter & Gamble, L'Oreal, Beiersdorf, and most recently French fashion and retail group PPR have all been linked to the luxury cosmetics firm.

 

 

 

The threat of a takeover by one of its larger competitors had led Clarins' shares to rise significantly in the past few weeks, but after the Figaro article was published, share prices started to move in the opposite direction.

 

 

 

At close of business yesterday, share prices were down 7 per cent to reach €58.25, while shares in other groups said to be interested in acquiring Clarins also dipped.

 

 

 

Earlier in the week, news linking Clarins to a possible buy-out by PPR had prompted shares to rise further pushing them above the €67 mark and giving the company an estimated market value in excess of €2.7bn.

 

 

 

Clarins is a relatively small player in the cosmetics world but an important brand because of its global associations with prestige skin care - a market that is growing fast on a worldwide basis. The company had a turnover of €967m in 2006.

 

 

 

Although the company has been particularly hard hit by difficulties in the highly competitive US market, where sales fell heavily at the start of the year, recent results showed that it had rallied for the most recent third quarter, following small gains in the US market.

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