Blackstone, Carlyle, others line up initial bids for FANCL Asia business: sources

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HONG KONG (Reuters) – More than 10 entities, including buyout firms Blackstone (NYSE:BX) and Carlyle, have lodged bids for skincare brand FANCL’s Asia business outside Japan valuing it at close to $1 billion, said people with direct knowledge of the matter.

Bain Capital, MBK Partners, Sequoia Capital and CITIC Capital are also among bidders for CMC Holdings, the sole distributor of FANCL Corp’s products in Asia outside Japan, the people said, declining to be named as the information is confidential.

Chinese online retailer JD (NASDAQ:JD).COM submitted an initial bid as well, they added.

Hong Kong-based Chris Chan, who owns CMC Holdings, appointed Morgan Stanley (NYSE:MS) to sell his business in August. CMC operates over 200 stores in Greater China and Southeast Asia.

Chan, CMC, Bain, Carlyle, MBK and Morgan Stanley declined to comment. Blackstone, Sequoia, CITIC Capital and JD.Com did not immediately respond to queries for comment.

Some of the private equity firms are looking to team up with a strategic partner, the people said, adding China’s internet giants Alibaba (NYSE:BABA) Group and Tencent Holdings (OTC:TCEHY) have shown interest and could join a bidding group later in the process. The two companies declined to comment.

FANCL’s products are sold and marketed on Alibaba’s TMall, JD.COM and Tencent’s WeChat. FANCL Corp said earlier this year it was in talks with its distributor to launch e-commerce platforms as soon as possible.

Alibaba and JD.Com, respectively, generated gross merchandise volume (GMV) of 498.2 billion yuan ($75.3 billion) and 271.5 billion yuan in this year’s Singles’ Day sales event, with Japan among the top-selling countries.

CMC is expected to finalise a shortlist for the second round of bidding by the end of next week and binding bids are due by the end of January, the people said.

The strong interest in FANCL’s business outside Japan indicate investors’ confidence in a consumption recovery in Asia, particularly in China which accounts for around 80% of FANCL Asia’s revenue.

Asia accounts for 53% of global skin care sales, Euromonitor data showed, with researchers generally expecting annual growth of over 5% in the next five years.

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