Unilever's Russia deal excites the markets

Date:2011-10-17lixiang  Text Size:

UNILEVER yesterday said it has agreed to buy an 82 percent stake in Russian cosmetics company Kalina from undisclosed private investors for about 390 million euros (US$525 million), a deal that would make it the country's largest skin care company.

Shares of Kalina's relatively small free float on Russia's Micex stock exchange soared 41 percent to 3,098 rubles (US$99), while Unilever's rose 3.1 percent to 24.795 euros in Amsterdam as investors warmed to the latest expansion plan.

SNS Securities analyst Richard Withagen said: "Kalina appears an attractive acquisition for Unilever as it would provide the company with dominant market shares in the Russian personal care market.

"It would also be in line with Unilever's strategy to grow sales in emerging markets."

Unilever, one of the world's largest consumer goods companies, makes a wide range of personal care brands, including Vaseline, Dove and Axe. It said the deal, which is pending regulatory approval, would strengthen its port-folio with brands such as Black Pearl, Silky Hands and Forest Beauty.

Paul Polman, Unilever's chief executive, said the deal would "transform Unilever's personal care business in Russia, giving us leading positions in skin care and hair."

The deal is the latest in a string of large purchases by Unilever, including a US$3.7 billion purchase of Alberto Culver that gave it the VO5 brand, and a 1.3-billion-euro purchase of Sara Lee's cosmetic brands, which include Sanex.

Unilever and Kalina declined to say who was selling the 82 percent stake Kalina.

"We don't disclose the sellers. Maybe later," Kalina spokeswoman Maria Shakleina said in an e-mailed statement.


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