Bidding list for Kanebo to be finalised

By Simon Pitman

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Cosmetics division, Government of japan

The Japanese government bailout agency is to finalise the list of
bidders for household and cosmetics company Kanebo as final bids
are submitted today. Although all the bidders have maintained
silence throughout the run-up, global giants L'Oreal and Proctor
& Gamble and most recently Revlon are all said to be serious
contenders.

However, for industry experts it is Japanese rival Kao that is the favourite to secure the successful bid. Last year the company put up a serious offer for Kanebo's cosmetics division - a bid that was only scuppered at the last minute.

Kao​ is currently Japan's largest household goods manufacturer and is also heavily involved in the cosmetics and personal care industry, meaning that a successful bid could provide plenty of synergies for the company to build upon.

But the competition is hotting up, with a report by Japanese news provider Kyodo News stating that US cosmetic giant Revlon is now joining the group of bidders, who are currently thought to number around ten.

The winning bidder will gain control of both the household and cosmetics divisions of Kanebo​. However, as the number of major cosmetics companies involved in the process would indicate, the primary interest revolves around the company's more profitable cosmetics operations.

This gives analysts reason to believe that there is a strong possibility the household business operations will then be sold after the company is bought up.

The bidding is being overseen by The Industrial Revitalisation Corporation (IRC), the government bailout body which has been managing the operation of the company since it went into receivership following an accounting scandal.

The IRC has said that it will not give out any information about the bidding process until the process is finalised at the end of the year and all the companies involved have refused to make any comment.

A determining factor in the bidding process will be the price tag. Last year Kao offered JPY400 billion (€2.95bn) for Kanebo's cosmetics operations. But since then spiraling debt meant the intervention of the IRC, which is bound to have a significant bearing on the current valuation for the company as a whole.

Kanebo admitted to inflating its profits to the tune of €2 billion over a five year period that ended in March 2003. The revelation came amidst a number of blue chip Japanese companies admitting to similar accounting inaccuracies around the same time, leading to a major confidence crisis in Japan's leading executive boards.

Currently the IRC owns a 51 per cent controlling stake in Kanebo and an 86 per cent stake in its cosmetics division. The body has invested significant sums in Kanebo, but as the company starts to regain some of its financial stability the bidding process is ready to be undertaken.

The IRC has refused to release the names of all the bidding parties, but says that several tenders could follow the first one, which is expected to be in September.

Meanwhile Kanebo is operating a 'business as normal' approach to its operations. Indeed the cosmetics division has just launches one of the most expensive skin creams in the world. Twany Century Cell Rhythm SP is, according to press reports, the company's most expensive skin cream to date. Priced at JPY 126,000 for a 40 gramme pot, it is an anti-ageing treatment designed for middle-aged and older women.

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