L'Oreal picked as preferred bidder for stake in South Korean cosmetics firm Nanda: report

FILE PHOTO: The logo of French cosmetics group L'Oreal is seen in front of the Arc de Triomphe during a public event in Paris, France, October 1, 2017. REUTERS/Charles Platiau

SEOUL (Reuters) - French cosmetics group L'Oreal SA OREP.PA has been picked as the preferred bidder to buy 70 percent of South Korean fashion and cosmetics firm Nanda, in a deal estimated at 400 billion won ($375 million), Korea Economic Daily reported on Tuesday, citing investment banking sources.

The deal would make L’Oreal the latest foreign investor to bet on continued demand for Korean beauty products in Asian markets such as China, backed by the popularity of Korean pop culture.

The proposed purchase from Nanda’s founder is aimed at strengthening L’Oreal’s presence in the Chinese make-up market, the newspaper said. UBS is managing the deal, it said.

L’Oreal declined to comment as did a UBS spokesman in Hong Kong. Nanda officials were not available for comment.

Nanda began as an online retailer and has expanded to open physical stores in South Korea, Tokyo and Hong Kong. Its Style Nanda clothing line and 3CE cosmetics brand are particularly popular among Chinese tourists.

The unlisted firm recorded 129 billion won in sales in 2016, versus 109 billion in 2015, a regulatory filing showed.

The deal would follow Unilever NV UNc.AS in September agreeing to buy cosmetics company Carver Korea Co Ltd for 2.27 billion euros ($2.80 billion).

LVMH LVMH.PA and Estee Lauder Companies Inc EL.N have also invested in South Korean cosmetics firms.

Reporting by Hyunjoo Jin and Ju-min Park; Additional reproting by Sarah White in PARIS; Editing by Kim Coghill and Christopher Cushing