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Spain perfume firm Puig buys makeup brand Charlotte Tilbury

[LONDON] Puig, the Spanish company behind Paco Rabanne perfumes, agreed to acquire celebrity makeup brand Charlotte Tilbury to add popular products including Magic Cream moisturiser and Pillow Talk lipstick.

Puig will acquire a majority stake in the label, according to a statement on Thursday, confirming an earlier report from Bloomberg News. While financial details were not disclosed, a person familiar with matter said the deal valued the business at more than £1.2 billion (S$2.11 billion).

Family-owned Puig, which is based in Barcelona, teamed up with Byron Trott's investment firm BDT Capital Partners on the purchase. Charlotte Tilbury, a London-born makeup artist who founded her namesake brand in 2013, plans to keep a minority stake in the business.

The transaction shows that large consumer companies still have an appetite to buy independent brands favoured by younger shoppers, despite the coronavirus pandemic that's ended a decade-long boom in dealmaking. Puig beat out competition from Unilever, L'Oreal, Estée Lauder and Japanese beauty company Shiseido, Bloomberg News has previously reported.

Ms Tilbury, who grew up around creative types on the Spanish island of Ibiza, made her name working with supermodels such as Kate Moss and actresses including Penelope Cruz. The company received an investment from venture capital firm Sequoia Capital in 2017.

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"I'm proud to be joining forces with Puig in a strategic partnership that will help us achieve our limitless ambitions," said Ms Tilbury, who will remain chairman, president and chief creative officer. "We've reached a pivotal point in our growth since launching seven years ago, and we're looking forward to unlocking new opportunities with Puig."

Puig, which sells Jean Paul Gaultier and Nina Ricci fragrances, reported 2019 sales of 2.03 billion euros (S$3.21 billion) and profit after tax of 226 million euros and is present in more than 150 countries, according to the statement.

"We are beyond excited to partner with Charlotte and her team and support them in the next stage of developing the brand," said Marc Puig, chairman and chief executive officer, in the announcement.

The deal is also a rare example of a major British business sold in an auction process since the coronavirus outbreak. After KKR & Co's acquisition of UK waste management provider Viridor in March, several sale processes have been shelved. Walmart put its planned disposal of the Asda supermarket chain on hold to focus management's attention on responding to the crisis, people with knowledge of the matter said in April.

Charlotte Tilbury worked with Goldman Sachs Group and Jefferies Financial Group on the sale while Puig was advised by BDT.

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