Unilever has agreed to pay 2.27 billion euros ($2.71 billion) to buy fast-growing cosmetics company Carver Korea in its latest move to build a global beauty business.
The purchase from Goldman Sachs, Bain Capital and Carver’s founder follows a string of smaller skincare and cosmetics deals as the Anglo-Dutch pivots away from slower-growth food.
The deal announced on Monday gives Unilever what it said is the fastest-growing skincare business in South Korea through its AHC brand of anti-ageing creams, moisturisers and other skin products. Carver also provides a strong foothold in North Asia, the world’s largest skincare market, Unilever said.
“Unilever continues to build a portfolio of niche brands in premium beauty to capture opportunities in high-margin dynamic categories,” said Ildiko Szalai, analyst at Euromonitor International, which says the South Korean beauty and personal care market has grown faster than the global average over the past five years.
Korean beauty brands are in huge demand throughout Asia and have attracted investors including LVMH and Estee Lauder over the past couple of years.
Monday’s deal comes even though political tensions between China and South Korea have dented earnings of many South Korean cosmetics businesses. Chinese tourists have been big buyers of South Korean cosmetics but China this year banned group tours to the country over Seoul’s decision to deploy an anti-missile system to counter North Korean threats.