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May 17, 2012
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Coty picks banks for planned autumn IPO

May 17, 2012

Beauty company Coty Inc has picked its lead underwriters for a planned initial public offering this fall, two days after it pulled a $10.7 billion unsolicited offer to buy Avon Products Inc (AVP.N), a person familiar with the matter told Reuters.

The fragrance maker, founded in Paris in 1904 by François Coty, has selected Bank of America Merrill Lynch (BAC.N) and JPMorgan Chase & Co (JPM.N) to lead the IPO, the source said.

Coty declined to comment, as did Bank of America and JPMorgan.

Coty, which is based in New York, plans to file a prospectus with U.S. regulators soon, the source said.

The IPO would value Coty, known for fragrances for Madonna and sports brand Adidas AG (ADSGn.DE) at more than $7 billion, the source said.

That would make it almost as valuable as Avon, which has a market value of about $8 billion, but has nearly three times the revenue.

Two days ago, Coty withdrew its offer for Avon, which it first disclosed in early April, faulting what it said was the direct seller's "unwillingness" to sit down and talk.

Coty had been considering an IPO before it looked at a deal with Avon. Last month, on a conference call aimed at making Coty's case to Avon shareholders, Chairman Bart Becht said Coty might go public if a deal did not come to pass.

Coty's products run the gamut from luxury perfumes for Bottega Veneta to skin care products sold at Wal-Mart Stores Inc (WMT.N). Its revenues rose 14 percent to $4.1 billion in its fiscal year ended June 2011 and Chief Executive Bernd Beetz told Reuters last year they would make double-digit percentage gains this year.

In trying to strike a deal with Avon, Coty was looking to gain more access to growing markets such as Brazil, Russia and Mexico and deepen its roster of products.

Fragrances made up 57 percent of that, with skin care and makeup accounting for the rest, and the bulk of its revenue come from Europe and North America.

In recent years, Coty has made acquisitions to grow and diversify its products.

In 2010, it bought skin care brand Philosophy from The Carlyle Group, nail color company OPI and a majority stake in Chinese skin care company TJoy Holdings.

Coty is majority owned by German conglomerate Joh. A. Benckiser. It competes against companies such as Estée Lauder Cos Inc (EL.N), L'Oreal SA (OREP.PA) and Elizabeth Arden Inc (RDEN.O).

The news of Coty's plans was first reported by CNBC.

(Reporting by Nadia Damouni, Phil Wahba and Martinne Geller; editing by Steve Orlofsky, Richard Chang and Andre Grenon)

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