Unilever Buys South Korean Cosmetics Firm for $2.7 Billion

"This has been a great opportunity for us to partner with a leading Korean company in an exciting segment of the cosmetics space and to help support its brand, operations, and growth around the world", said Ed Han, managing director for Bain Capital Private Equity, in a Unilever press release.

Unilever said on Monday that it has agreed to buy South Korean cosmetics firm Carver Korea for 2.27 billion euros ($2.71 billion) from Bain Capital Private Equity and Goldman Sachs.

The contract also marks the largest merger and acquisition deal ever for a South Korean cosmetics firm. Carver also provides a strong foothold in North Asia, the world's largest skincare market, Unilever said. Carver sells age-management, skin-hydration and skin-nourishment products under the brand AHC. "It is an impressive business that is completely aligned to our personal care strategy", Unilever personal care president Alan Jope said. The division collected €20.2 billion in revenue past year, or about 38 percent of the conglomerate's overall sales.

The Anglo-Dutch company announced the deal on Monday, saying Carver was the fastest-growing skincare business in South Korea, through sales of its AHC brand.

The company had already been trying to become more reliant on bath, body and beauty products, which tend to have higher growth and margins than food.

In recent years, Unilever has acquired Dollar Shave Club, the men's shaving darling, as well as the skin care product makers Murad and Dermalogica to help expand its premium offerings.

Skincare sales in South Korea will reach $6.3 billion this year, and interest in the Asian country's cosmetics companies has been heating up. Bain Capital agreed to invest about $816 million in beauty-products maker Hugel Inc.in April, after Goldman and Bain bought a majority stake in Carver a year ago.

This is not the first time Unilever has struck a deal in the beauty business - in 2015 alone, it bought four high-end skin-care brands.

  • Jack Mann