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LVMH invests $50m in Korean cosmetics maker CLIO

With fresh capital, CLIO looks to expand in China and Southeast Asia

South Korean cosmetics maker CLIO has secured $50 million in investment from the world’s largest luxury brand group LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton, boosting plans to expand overseas.

LVMH-owned private equity fund L Capital Asia and CLIO signed an agreement on the investment and its terms during a ceremony in Singapore on July 22, the Korean cosmetics firm said Monday.

Under the agreement, CLIO will complete its initial public offering by the end of this year and issue redeemable convertible preference shares, which will later be claimed by L Capital Asia.

L Capital Asia CEO Ravi Thakran (left) and CLIO’s chief executive Han Hyun-ok shake hands after signing an investment agreement in Singapore on July 22. (CLIO)
L Capital Asia CEO Ravi Thakran (left) and CLIO’s chief executive Han Hyun-ok shake hands after signing an investment agreement in Singapore on July 22. (CLIO)

In negotiating its stock purchase, L Capital Asia valued CLIO’s market capitalization at 810 billion won ($712 million). Under such calculations, the Singapore-based private equity firm secured a 7 percent stake in CLIO with its $50 million investment, CLIO said.

With the newly secured capital, the Korean cosmetics maker is looking to drive up its presence in China and new markets in Southeast Asia.

“In partnership with L Capital Asia, CLIO will swiftly expand our sales channels in overseas markets and pursue innovative technologies to step up as a leader in the global cosmetics market,” CLIO chief executive Han Hyun-ok said in a statement.

The Korean cosmetics maker, which currently operates some 90 CLIO brand stores in Korea, opened its first CLIO store in China in May. It plans to open 40 more stores in China by the end of this year and expand its sales routes in China as well as Southeast Asia.

“L Capital Asia hopes to create a new success story by combining CLIO’s high-quality products and brand value and our network and marketing expertise,” L Capital Asia chief executive Ravi Thakran said in a statement.

Founded in 1993, CLIO currently owns three makeup brands that mainly target women in their 20s and 30s -- CLIO, Peripera and Goodal. They are sold via drug stores, brand shops, online shopping malls and home shopping channels.

In 2015, CLIO’s sales surged to 107 billion won along with an operating profit of 22.5 billion won. It had been boosted by the sales of CLIO’s brow makeup product which appeared on the hit local TV drama series “The Producers” last year.

Alongside CLIO, other Korean cosmetics makers have also been attracting foreign capital lately. In October 2015, Estee Lauder Companies became a major shareholder of Have & Be Co., the parent company of Seoul-based skin care brand Dr. Jart for an undisclosed sum.

Last week, Goldman Sachs and Bain Capital Private Equity took over Carver Korea, which owns Korean skin care brand A.H.C., for 520 billion won.

By Sohn Ji-young (