L'Oreal trims Sanofi-Aventis stake

PARIS (Reuters) - French cosmetics giant L'Oreal OREP.PA announced on Wednesday it had sold 1.8 percent of Sanofi-Aventis's SASY.PA capital, bringing its stake in the French pharmaceutical group down to 8.7 percent.

L’Oreal initially said in a statement it planned to carry out the sale at an undisclosed date through an accelerated bookbuilding with institutional investors.

Later on Wednesday, L’Oreal issued another statement saying it had completed the sale in a few hours at 60.5 euros a share and that the operation would bring in roughly 1.5 billion euros.

Sanofi-Aventis, whose shares ended Wednesday’s session at a one-month closing high of 63.30 euros, declined to comment.

French oil and gas group Total TOTF.PA, which owns 13.1 percent of Sanofi-Aventis, also declined to comment on L'Oreal's decision.

But a spokesman at Total said the energy giant remained committed to gradually selling its whole stake by the end of 2012.

Reporting by Marie Maitre and Francois Murphy, editing by Leslie Gevirtz