Nestle cuts L’Oreal stake by selling $10 billion worth of shares

FILE PHOTO: FILE PHOTO: Logo is pictured on the Nestle research center in Lausanne
FILE PHOTO: A Nestle logo is pictured at Vers-chez-les-Blanc in Lausanne, Switzerland August 20, 2020. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse

December 7, 2021

PARIS (Reuters) – Nestle SA said on Tuesday it would cut its stake in L’Oreal to about 20% by selling shares worth 8.9 billion euros ($10.03 billion) back to the French cosmetics brand, as the Nescafe maker sharpens its focus on its core food and beverage divisions.

Following the deal, Nestle said it would own 20.1% of L’Oreal, down from 23.3% previously. L’Oreal, meanwhile, would buy back shares representing 4% of its capital and cancel them at the latest on Aug. 29.

L’Oreal, which is paying 400 euros per share, said the deal will have an accretive effect on the company’s earnings per share of more than 4% in a full year.

L’Oréal stock ended Tuesday up 3.96% at 424.8 euros while Nestle gained 0.1% to 121.9 Swiss francs.

The packaged foods maker also said its board had decided to buy back 20 billion Swiss francs ($21.63 billion) worth of its shares between 2022 and 2024, adding that it would adjust this program should it make sizable acquisitions.

Nestle said it would terminate its current share repurchase plan by the end of the year, having bought back shares for 12.7 billion Swiss francs or almost two-thirds of the program volume.

L’Oreal around four years ago underscored its readiness to buy Nestle’s 23% stake if the Swiss shareholder was to sell it.

Nestle in October 2019 closed the sale of its skin health business for 10.2 billion Swiss francs, as the group moved to ditch underperforming businesses.

Nestle’s holding in the beauty giant has been subject of intense scrutiny over the years. The Swiss company maintained its interest was both financial and strategic, even as an activist investor urged disposal. In 2014, the company reduced its holding from 31%.

Centerview acted as lead adviser to L’Oreal for the transaction announced Tuesday.

($1 = 0.8876 euros)

($1 = 0.9246 Swiss francs)

(Reporting by Praveen Paramasivam in Bengaluru and Mimosa Spencer in Paris; Editing by Ramakrishnan M. And Cynthia Osterman)

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Author: Shirley