January 29, 2018 / 1:08 PM / 24 days ago

Avon shareholders urge cosmetic maker to sell itself

(Reuters) - Shareholders of Avon Products Inc (AVP.N) on Monday called on the cosmetics maker to explore strategic options, including a sale.

The shareholders, which include lead investors Shah Capital, Barington Capital Group and NuOrion Partners, together hold a 3.5 percent stake in the company.

The group said they were “extremely disappointed” with the board’s inability to address falling shareholder value and to hire a new chief executive quickly.

“The board values the input of all shareholders and is executing against its roadmap to deliver profitable growth”, an Avon spokeswoman said, adding the company is on track to complete its CEO transition on schedule.

In August, Avon’s CEO Sheri McCoy said she would step down in March 2018 after activist investor Barington pressured the company for her removal.

McCoy was unable to plug losses in the five years she has been at the helm as the company lost customers to bigger players such as Estee Lauder Cos Inc (EL.N) and specialty retailers such as LVMH’s (LVMH.PA) Sephora.

    The company’s shares have lost nearly 90 percent of their value since McCoy took charge as CEO in 2012.

    Beauty products maker Coty Inc (COTY.N) could be a possible buyer, analyst Linda Weiser of D.A. Davidson said in a client note, adding that Avon can provide access to Latin America for Coty that has been looking for high growth markets.

    In 2012, Coty withdrew its $10.7 billion bid for Avon after the latter failed to engage with its suitor.

    Avon’s shares were marginally up on Monday.

    Reporting by Uday Sampath and Karina Dsouza in Bengaluru; Editing by Martina D'Couto and Arun Koyyur

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