French beauty brand L’Occitane halts trading in Hong Kong


HONG KONG, China  -Trading in French beauty brand L’Occitane was halted in Hong Kong on Monday after reports emerged that its controlling shareholder may take the company private.

The luxury retailer, known for its skincare products and fragrances, raised more than $700 million in its Hong Kong initial public offering in 2010, buoyed by optimism over the booming Chinese consumer market.

Bloomberg News reported in July that chairman Reinold Geiger was studying options for taking the brand private, using a holding company that owned more than 70 percent of its shares.

L’Occitane International SA announced on Monday that its Hong Kong-listed stocks will be suspended “pending the publication of an announcement pursuant to the Code on Takeovers and Mergers”, according to an exchange filing.

The firm, headquartered in Luxembourg and Geneva, said last month it was considering a possible take-private deal with an offer price of no less than HK$26 ($3.30) per share, but “has not received any firm offer” at the time. It closed at HK$27.80 on Thursday, with the market closed Friday owing to a typhoon.

L’Occitane’s stock price was flat for the first half of the year before spiking around 40 percent in late July.

The brand’s listing in Hong Kong came at a time when western brands were seeking new ways to tap the growing Chinese consumer market.

The group’s portfolio includes L’Occitane en Provence, French beauty brand Melvita, Korean skincare line Erborian, and Elemis, a British care product brand.

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