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A New Beauty Makeup at Unilever

With one swift, decisive stroke, Unilever consolidated and streamlined the top management of its prestige fragrance business Thursday.

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Arden announced on Oct. 2 that it planned to undertake a public offering of 4 million shares of its common stock and had filed a preliminary prospectus supplement to its existing shelf registration statement with the Securities and Exchange Commission to that effect.

Speculation among market executives is that Beattie’s chief obstacle in making an acquisition is that Unilever already holds Elizabeth Arden stock from a previous deal in which Beattie acquired the Arden and Elizabeth Taylor businesses from Unilever. Those shares must be bought back before another deal can be made, or so sources speculate. Currently, Arden holds about 2.7 million shares of its stock, and Unilever owns approximately 1.3 million shares of Arden stock.

Arden gained 3 percent, or 55 cents, to close at $18.89 in Thursday’s Nasdaq session, while Unilever closed up 40 cents, or 1.2 percent, to close at $34.85 on the New York Stock Exchange.

Scott Beattie, reached at press time Thursday, declined to comment on the market rumors that Arden is a likely suitor for Calvin Klein Cosmetics if Unilever places it up for sale.

On July 30, Unilever plc chairman Niall FitzGerald turned up the heat on the firm’s prestige perfume business after the firm reported lower sales and earnings for the second quarter. Speaking to analysts on a conference call, FitzGerald identified frozen foods, household care and prestige fragrances as three businesses that were failing to meet its standards and were holding back sales growth.

“These businesses are ‘on watch’; they are not up for sale,” he said during the call. “These businesses are not performing up to standard. If they don’t step up and meet our targets, we will look for alternative solutions. But these businesses should be well capable of meeting our standards.”

During her four-year tenure at Calvin Klein Cosmetics, Dart won praise from retailers for aggressively pursuing a new product growth strategy with a steady stream of flanker and limited-edition fragrances, although the Crave men’s fragrance was said to be a costly disappointment. Before joining Klein, she was one of the most respected retailers in Britain, as a result of holding beauty and fashion buying positions at Selfridges for 16 years.
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