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Aesop auction draws LVMH, L'Oreal

Jan 30, 2023
Aesop beauty products.

Photographer: Katie Falkenberg/Los Angeles Times/Getty Images

LVMH, L’Oréal SA and Shiseido are among the consumer players weighing a bid for a stake in cosmetics company Aesop, Bloomberg reported.

Why it matters : The deal, which could value Aesop in excess of $2 billion, signals ongoing faith in the luxury and beauty sectors — despite the specter of a recession.

Catch up fast: Aesop owner Natura & Co has been working with Bank of America and Morgan Stanley to sell a stake in its Aesop unit since late last year.

  • CVC Capital and L'Occitane International, along with Shiseido, were looking at the asset, per a Bloomberg report from November 2022.
  • While Natura had initially wanted to pursue an IPO for Aesop, the company pivoted to a minority stake sale due to unfavorable capital markets.
  • Natura acquired Aesop back in 2012 for AUD $68 million.

Context: The beauty and wellness sector is typically considered "recession proof" because consumer demand remains strong even when the economy takes a turn, industry insiders say.

  • Indeed, consumers are showing no signs of trading down from prestige to mass-market items, per a D.A. Davidson report from last month.
  • A handful of strategics emerged from COVID with healthy balance sheets and cash to deploy for deals, Goldman Sachs partner Cosmo Roe told Bloomberg this month.
  • Skin care has a longterm tail, according to Roe, with a sticky and large addressable market.

L’Oréal declined to comment. LVMH, Shiseido and Natura did not respond to Axios' request for comment.

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