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Unilever revives sale of non-core personal care brands

Illustration of a mirror with a dollar sign reflected in it.

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

Unilever may be reviving a sale of non-core personal care brands led by Q-Tips, Reuters reports citing sources.

Why it matters: It would be the CPG conglomerate's second attempt at unloading its Elida Beauty portfolio in as many years.

Details: Elida includes brands Impulse, Caress, TIGI, Timotei, Monsavon, St. Ives, Zwitsal, Ponds, Brut, Moussel, Alberto Balsam and Matey, per Reuters.

  • The seller has restructured Elida to be more of an autonomous unit so it is a more appealing target.
  • The unit generated $760 million in sales in 2022.
  • Unilever hired investment banks Morgan Stanley and Evercore to lead the process, per Reuters.

The latest: The financial advisers are now reaching out to prospective buyers, including private equity, to gauge interest for what could be a multibillion-dollar deal, also per Reuters.

Flashback: In 2021, Unilever hired investment bank Credit Suisse to sell the businesses but abandoned the process.

Catch up fast: Hein Schumacker took Unilever's reins this summer after being hired in late January, and this could be seen as the CEO's first big strategic move.

  • Note that Unilever has been under pressure in recent years to prune its sprawling portfolio of food and personal care businesses.
  • Even the company has said it wants to focus on higher-growth businesses while selling off slower-growing ones.
  • To boot, Nelson Peltz, the head of hedge fund Trian Fund Management, who is famous for getting companies to do exactly that, joined the conglomerate's board last year.

Be smart: Consumer conglomerates don't exact many synergies from marrying large food holdings with personal care.

  • Unilever lags behind U.S. counterparts, namely Procter & Gamble, when it comes to rationalizing its holdings.
  • Plus, over the past decade, there's been fallout from competition posed by DTC brands after decades of shelf dominance at retailers from Walmart to Kroger.

The bottom line: If the sale proves successful, it could spur Unilever to part with other brands it has toyed with selling, such as ice cream.

Unilever, Evercore and Morgan Stanley declined to comment.

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