L’Occitane’s billionaire owner decides against deal to take company private

Hong Kong-listed skincare specialist L’Occitane International SA said on Monday its controlling shareholder had decided against a potential deal to take the company private, curbing speculation of a possible European listing.

L’Occitane updated the market last month about a potential buyout offer from Chairman Reinold Geiger’s investment holding company, L’Occitane Groupe SA, at no less than US$3.32 per share.

Sources had earlier told Reuters that Geiger had also been speaking to advisers about the possibility of re-listing the skincare products group on a European exchange as soon as next year.

Austrian billionaire Geiger has doubled sales at the beauty-store chain over the last decade, with the retailer now having 3,000 outlets in 90 countries selling organic beauty products.

However, the $5.22 billion firm lags behind peers in the cosmetic sector, including French firm L’Oreal SA , in terms of its forward price to earnings ratio.

Italian fashion house Prada SpA has also been seeking a dual listing in Italy along with its Hong Kong listing.

Hong Kong has recently emerged as an epicentre of buyout deals, with a range of companies having depressed valuations.

Imax Corp, the big-screen cinema company, is set to assume full control of its listed Chinese entity, while snack maker Dali Foods Group also received a takeover proposal in June.

L’Occitane Groupe SA owned 72.5 per cent of the skincare firm at the end of May.

The company is listed in Hong Kong at a time when a number of firms from the West are looking to boost exposure to the rapidly growing Chinese market.

Shares in the Luxembourg- and Geneva-headquartered company, which were placed on a halt, will resume trading on Tuesday.

Last month Bloomberg News reported that Geiger was discussing a possible offer of about HK$35 for each L’Occitane share he does not already own.

The company later clarified that if a deal were to go through, the potential offer price would be no less than HK$26.00 per share.

L’Occitane listed in Hong Kong in 2010, and at the time was one of the first western companies to sell its primary shares in the Asian financial hub.

  • Reporting by Rishav Chatterjee and Himanshi Akhand in Bengaluru; Editing by David Goodman, David Holmes and Jan Harvey, of Reuters.

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