CVC Buying Shiseido Personal-Care Unit in $1.5 Billion Deal

Shiseido Co. agreed to sell its shampoo and affordable skin-care business to CVC Capital Partners in a deal worth 160 billion yen ($1.5 billion), as the Japanese beauty giant shifts more of its focus to making and selling high-end skin products.

The operations divested include Shiseido’s well-known drugstore brands, including Tsubaki hair-care products and Senka face wash, the company said in a statement Wednesday. The company had earlier confirmed it was in talks to sell the unit following a Bloomberg report last month.

Shiseido, founded more than 140 years ago as a pharmacy in Tokyo’s Ginza district, has been revamping its portfolio as the coronavirus outbreak has changed up cosmetic and personal care routines, dealing a blow to beauty companies. The lifestyle and personal care business represented about 10% of Shiseido’s revenue in 2019, with annual sales of about 100 billion yen.

Under the deal, Shiseido will transfer its personal-care business in Japan and other countries to a holding company that CVC will invest in, with the transfer price of the business and assets valued at 160 billion yen. The transfer date is set for July 2021, after which Shiseido will acquire a 35% stake in the holding company that will operate the business. CVC will oversee the new company, which may go public in the future.

“The personal care business model is very different from our focus as a beauty company,” Chief Executive Officer Masahiko Uotani said in a Wednesday press briefing. Though Shiseido’s business has been impacted by the coronavirus pandemic, the company did not make a hasty decision to sell off the segment, he said.

Shiseido has been debating the future of its personal care business for many years as the company has not been able to prioritize the segment and give it the marketing and research and development resources needed to grow, Uotani said, adding that CVC and other potential partners had approached the company in the past, but he thought it was too premature then to sell the business.

Shares of Shiseido have climbed more than 10% since discussions of a sale were first reported, and the stock rose 1.5% in Tokyo trading Wednesday before the formal announcement. Shiseido on Monday also boosted its fiscal year guidance, saying it expects to post an operating profit instead of its earlier projection for a loss. The company will report earnings on Feb. 9.

Shiseido plans to announce the impact of Wednesday’s deal on earnings in May.

The beauty company has been seeking to exit non-core businesses by the end of 2021 as part of a revamp and a new mid-term plan for 2023. Bloomberg Intelligence analyst Catherine Lim said that funds from the sale could be used to achieve its 2023 goals and grow the company’s digital beauty and e-commerce business.

“It might be the company has started to take more radical and more agile management decisions,” Jefferies analyst Mitsuko Miyasako wrote in a note on Jan. 22 after Bloomberg first reported the potential sale. It’s likely that Shiseido would continue to divest more segments not core to its business revamp, she added.

Uotani has continued to hint over the past year that asset sales are necessary as the company prioritizes cash.

Japanese companies have started looking closely at the domestic market and the health of their balance sheets as the pandemic put a stop to international travel. That means more companies are offloading non-core assets as part of their strategic review. Hitachi Ltd. in December agreed to sell a partial stake in its overseas home appliance business.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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