[THE INVESTOR] Dutch-British consumer goods heavyweight Unilever on Sept. 25 announced its acquisition of a controlling stake in local cosmetics firm Carver Korea for 2.27 billion euros (US$2.69 billion).
Unilever purchased a 95.39 percent stake, including 60.39 percent owned by Goldman Sachs and Bain Capital. The two had formed a consortium last year to buy the stake for 430 billion won. Unilever also took over a 35 percent stake from founder Lee Sang-rok.
Carver Korea was established in 1999 as a firm supplying exclusively to private beauty salons. Since 2013 when it sold products via home shopping channels, it has been enjoying dramatic growth. In 2016, sales jumped 174 percent to 429.5 billion won, while operation profit hit 180 billion won.
Industry watchers say Unilever acquired the firm -- touted at the biggest deal in the domestic cosmetics industry -- to take advantage of Carver Korea’s potential in the Chinese market. Unilever entered China in 1986, and is hoping to expand its presence through the Korean firm already well known among Chinese consumers.
“Our products, especially our face masks, are very popular among Chinese customers,” a Carver Korea spokesperson told The Investor. “We weren’t too much affected by the THAAD fallout.”
A number of Korean cosmetic firms, including beauty giant Amorepacific, have been suffering slumping sales in China due to a prolonged dispute between Beijing and Seoul over the latter’s deployment of THAAD missile system.
Meanwhile, both Unilever Korea and Carver Korea declined to elaborate on the deal, or how the latter will be managed in the future.
By Song Seung-hyun (firstname.lastname@example.org