EU agrees Hutchison acquisition of Marionnaud

Related tags European union

The European Union has cleared the acquisition of France-based
Marionnaud Parfumerieries by AS Watson, part of Hong Kong
conglomorate Hutchinson Whampoa. The deal wins the group a
controlling stake in Marionnaud, reports Simon Pitman.

Watson's​ offer, which aims to buy the shares and convertible bonds of Marionnaud Parfumeries​, closed on March 21, 2005. The deal means that Watson has acquired 90.69 per cent of the capital and the voting rights of the company together with 78.76 per cent of the capital.

The offer has been made open from April 11 and closes on April 29, a statement from the Board of Directors at Marionnaud's board meeting confirmed.

The board agreed on a cash payment from Watson not to exceed 800 million euros, which will be determined at the end of the company's financial year, on December 31, 2004. The deal also means that Ian Wade, group managing director of A.S. Watson, has been appointed as director of Marionnaud.

Marcel Frydman, president and CEO of Marionnaud, added that he will be presenting Marionnaud's complete accounts for 2004 to the board on April 25.

On 14 January this year, Watson announced a cash offer of approximately €534 million for Marionnaud shares.

Watson says that its strategic goal for the acquisition is to leverage on the success of Marionnaud and continue expanding the brand both in France and internationally.

Watson intends to improve the financial performance of Marionnaud by combining both companies' international network, and creating synergies in both sourcing and logistics. The company also intends that the acquisition will provide improved opportunities for employees by unlocking what it terms "significant unrealised potential"​ in the business.

Watson runs cosmetics stores in the EU and all over Asia, where the brand name is a recognised as one of the leading cosmetic and personal care retailers. Currently it has 980 stores in ten Asian countries making it the largest health and beauty retailer in the region. Marrionaud currently operates mostly in France, where Watson is not well represented.

In 1991, Marionnaud entered the primary market and since the Stock Exchange reform, it has been on the C listing of Eurolist. In 2003, the turnover of the company amounted to €1.1 billion. At the end of the first-half of 2004, it reached €515 million. Some 35 per cent of this turnover was made abroad.

In an official release about the deal, the EU Commission said that some overlap existed in the Czech Republic, Poland and Hungary, but that as the two chains only have a small presence in those markets at the moment there was no real cause for concern.