L’Occitane owner looks for clean sweep to return skin-care brand to private hands

Manosque, Provence, France.
Manosque, Provence, France. Copyright Canva.
Copyright Canva.
By Eleanor Butler
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Austrian billionaire Reinold Geiger offers to buy up shares and take the company back into private hands to focus on "rebuilding the foundation for the long-term sustainable growth of our company".


The owner and major shareholder of French firm L'Occitane is looking to take his skin-care firm back into private hands after a 14-year stretch on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange.

Austrian billionaire Reinold Geiger has offered HK$34 (€4.05) per share to buy the stock he doesn't already own, an increase on the most recent closing share price of HK$29.50 (€3.52).

The deal is worth up to HK$13.91bn (€1.7 billion), and the company's total equity is valued at around €6 billion.

"Our family has always taken a responsible, long-term view when it comes to developing our company," said Geiger in a statement.

"The cosmetics sector is undergoing profound changes, and our company has significantly transformed into a geographically balanced multi-brand group, marked by strategic acquisitions such as ELEMIS, Sol de Janeiro, and, most recently, Dr. Vranjes Firenze. The transaction we are launching today will enable us to focus on rebuilding the foundation for the long-term sustainable growth of our company."

Blackstone, Goldman Sachs, and Crédit Agricole are believed to be financing the deal.

Geiger owned 72% of L'Occitane's shares at the end of March, whilst another 28.69% are owned by ACATIS Investment and Global Alpha Capital Management - two firms which support the privatisation.

L'Occitane said that the move would allow for greater flexibility in deal making, freeing the company up from the more often short-term demands of shareholders.

Trading of L'Occitane shares was suspended on 9 April pending a takeover announcement, although activity resumed on Tuesday.

In mid-morning (CET) trade, shares were valued at €32.30 on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange.

L'Occitane was created in 1976 by 23-year-old Frenchman Olivier Baussan, who began selling products made from essential oils at local markets in Provence.

The luxury cosmetics group is now headquartered in Luxembourg and Geneva, although the brand retains a manufacturing base in Manosque, Provence.

Current owner Geiger, who became a minority shareholder of L'Occitane in 1994, claims he joined the firm to protect his investment following a period of poor performance.

The brand now operates in 90 countries and has 3,000 retail outlets.

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