Unilever buys Carver Korea for US$2.7 bn to strengthen Asia foothold

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"Unilever continues to build a portfolio of niche brands in premium beauty to capture opportunities in high-margin dynamic categories", said Ildiko Szalai, an analyst at Euromonitor International.

Global consumer products firm Unilever is moving to acquire South Korea's fastest-growing skincare business, Carver Korea, and its brand AHC, in a transaction that positions the firm to strengthen its foothold in northern Asia and expand its Personal Care business, the company announced in a press release Monday.

Unilever purchased a 95.39 percent stake, including 60.39 percent owned by Goldman Sachs and Bain Capital.

Buying Carver will help Unilever gain ground in the Korean beauty market, where hair and beauty trends often influence ones further west, the Journal noted.

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The range of products now includes its hero line "Eye Cream for Face", along with essences, toners, moisturisers, masks and sun protection.

"Alan Jope, president of personal care division at Unilever, said the Carver transaction would 'significantly strengthen our position in North Asia, the largest skincare market in the world, '" write Naomi Rovnick, Scheherazade Daneshkhu and Song Jung-a for Financial Times. The company's origins are as a professional products supplier for beauty salons. The company's main brand is AHC, and it also sell whitening products.

Skincare sales in South Korea will reach $6.3 billion this year, and interest in the Asian country's cosmetics companies has been heating up. In 2015, Carver posted total sales of about $130 million.

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. Unilever also took over a 35 percent stake from founder Lee Sang-rok. "Unilever is a strong partner to help the company in its next phase of growth and development".