General Atlantic nears acquisition of beauty brand Morphe: sources

(Reuters) - Private equity firm General Atlantic is nearing a deal to acquire a majority stake in Morphe LLC that will value the maker of makeup brushes and eyeshadow palettes at more than $2 billion, including debt, people familiar with the matter said.

General Atlantic, which also owned Too Faced Cosmetics before selling it to Estee Lauder Companies Inc EL.N in 2016, will complete the deal with Morphe in the coming weeks, the sources said on Thursday.

Some of General Atlantic’s investment will be used to fund Morphe’s growth and potential acquisitions so it can develop into a global cosmetics brand, one of the sources added.

All of Morphe’s existing shareholders will continue to be investors in the company, according to the source.

The persons asked not to be identified because the matter is confidential. Morphe did not respond to a request for comment, while General Atlantic declined to comment.

Morphe has grown at a rapid pace largely by partnering with social media influencers and by selling direct over the internet at modest prices.

Founded in 2008 by siblings Chris and Linda Tawil, the San Francisco-based company has co-created entire lines branded in collaboration with stars of the online makeup tutorial genre, each of whom boast millions of social media followers.

Morphe, whose investors include Summit Partners LP’s Elevate Brandpartners, is part of a wave of fast-growing brands in the cosmetics industry that are mastering new online sales channels, as department-store makeup counters lose their luster.

Last year Anastasia Beverly Hills, a cosmetics brand that shot to prominence among younger buyers after endorsement from Kim Kardashian, sold a majority stake to private equity firm TPG in a deal valuing it at close to $3 billion.

Reporting by Harry Brumpton in New York; Editing by Matthew Lewis