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Clarins Announces Plan to De-List Firm...

Groupe Clarins is on its way to becoming a privately held company.

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PARIS — Groupe Clarins is on its way to becoming a privately held company.

During a press conference held here Monday morning, the Courtin-Clarins family — majority shareholders in Clarins — announced an offer worth 814.2 million euros, or $1.28 billion at current exchange, to take the company off the Paris Bourse. That would end an era that began in 1984, when Clarins first went public.

"The Courtin family wishes to de-list Clarins," said Christian Courtin-Clarins, president of the firm's supervisory board, who explained that to back the offer, his family took a loan from CM-CIC bank. "The market is short-term, sometimes even very short-term. The vision for our strategy for the group is more mid- and long-term."

He said the company had looked into possible acquisitions, but that none was satisfactory in terms of price or complementarity. Further, Courtin-Clarins explained, there was just a small number of targets.

"We have decided to concentrate on what we know best — that's to say, the activities of Clarins," he continued. To do that, the firm will regularly invest in everything from products to research and distribution.

"The long period of rumors was a veritable catalyst for our decision," continued Courtin-Clarins, adding one can't run a company while being constantly under the weight of rumors and having to refute nonstop what was hearsay.

Courtin-Clarins was referring to months of speculation following the death of Clarins founder Jacques Courtin-Clarins, in March 2007, that sparked rumors the company would begin entertaining potential buyers. Speculation abounded that YSL Beauté, the beauty arm of PPR's Gucci Group, would become part of Clarins. And until late January, when L'Oréal announced it had proposed to acquire YSL Beauté, there was buzz that PPR would offer its beauty division to Clarins in return for up to a 30 percent stake in the company and even a right of first refusal if the firm were eventually sold. All throughout, the Courtin-Clarins family steadfastly maintained its unwillingness to cede control of Clarins.

Courtin-Clarins reiterated Monday, "It is not the intention of the family to sell its stake but to implement the strategy well."

As reported, Financière FC, the Courtin-Clarins family holding company, on Friday morning filed a tender offer with the Autorité des Marchés Financiers, France's stock market watchdog, proposing to pay 55.50 euros, or $87.45, for each of the 14.7 million shares not already held by Financière FC. (This represents 36 percent of Clarins' capital.) The price Clarins would pay corresponds to about a 30 percent premium on the stock's average trading price over the last month. When the company suspended the stock's trading early Thursday afternoon, the share price was 43.72 euros, or $68.89, up 1.67 percent versus Wednesday's close.
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