Dutch-British consumer goods heavyweight Unilever on September 25 announced its acquisition of a controlling stake in local cosmetics firm Carver Korea for 2.27 billion euros (US$2.69 billion).
"Alan Jope, president of personal care division at Unilever, said the Carver transaction would 'significantly strengthen our position in North Asia, the largest skincare market in the world, '" write Naomi Rovnick, Scheherazade Daneshkhu and Song Jung-a for Financial Times.
Founded in 1999, Carver, which produces moisturisers, face masks and sun creams, was bought by Goldman Sachs and Bain Capital past year, when it reported revenues of €321m, nearly three times as high as in the previous 12 months. The group's shares have added more than 17 percent to their value over the past year, and are up by just under 30 percent in the year-to-date.
The deal delivers a whopping profit for the two global investment companies which purchased a 60-percent stake in Carver Korea for 430 billion won ($397 million) in June past year.
The move towards the cosmetic and personal care sector has already seen the FTSE 100-listed giant acquire a number of beauty brands, including Dermalogica, Ren, Murad and Living Proof as they offer higher growth and profit margins, compared to its food brands.
Founded in 1999, Carver became the "fastest-growing" skincare business in South Korea through the sales of its brand AHC, which focuses on age management, and hydration and nourishment, according to the press statement. The brand will also complement Unilever's existing portfolio, enabling it to provide consumers with luxury skincare products at affordable prices.
South Korean cosmetics companies had robust growth in past years, helped by strong Chinese demand, which has weakened recently amid geopolitical disputes in the region. South Korea is also the world's fourth-largest market for skin care.