July 22, 2016 / 7:45 AM / 3 years ago

LVMH arm buys slice of Seoul cosmetics firm CLIO as South Korea beauty business booms

The Louis Vuitton watch maker factory, part of LVMH, is pictured in La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland, April 6, 2016. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse

SEOUL (Reuters) - An investment arm of French luxury goods giant LVMH (LVMH.PA) said it took a minority stake in South Korea’s CLIO Cosmetics, swelling the ranks of global investors placing a bet on booming demand for Korean beauty products in major markets like China.

The unit of LVMH, owner of beauty brands from Guerlain to Make Up for Ever, and CLIO said in a joint statement on Friday that L Capital Asia bought a minority stake in the Korean cosmetics firm, without saying how big a stake was involved nor how much was paid for it.

A person with direct knowledge of the matter told Reuters L Capital invested $50 million for about a 7 percent stake, saying CLIO plans to seek approval to launch an initial public offering as early as next week. The person declined to be identified because the matter was confidential.

Foreign investors having been piling into the Korean cosmetics business in recent years, emboldened by the country’s success in exporting a ‘Korean Wave’ culture built around music, fashion and beauty products. In 2015, South Korea become the second-largest cosmetics exporter to China after France, shipping $1.1 billion in goods, according to Seoul’s Ministry of Food and Drug Safety.

Earlier this week that Goldman Sachs Group Inc (GS.N) and Bain Capital Private Equity will acquire a majority stake in unlisted cosmetics maker Carver Korea Co Ltd, while Estee Lauder Companies Inc (EL.N) acquired a stake in the parent firm of skincare brand Dr.Jart+ in October 2015.

L Capital Asia's move to buy into CLIO is not the first time LVMH has bet on South Korea's pop culture. The investment arm also invested $80 million in K-pop talent agency YG Entertainment (122870.KQ) in 2014. (reut.rs/2a46A6j)

Reporting by Joyce Lee; Editing by Kenneth Maxwell

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