(Bloomberg) -- Cosmetics maker Natura &Co is working with Bank of America Corp. and Morgan Stanley to sell a stake in its Aesop unit, according to people familiar to the matter.
Aesop, the Brazilian company’s high-end brand, has drawn interest from private equity firm CVC Capital Partners and competitors such as L’Occitane International SA and Shiseido Co., said the people, who asked not to be identified because discussions are private.
Natura had earlier preferred an initial public offering for Aesop, but is now leaning toward a minority stake sale because of the unfavorable equity markets, the people said.
The discussions are in early stages and could end without an agreement, the people said.
Natura said in a regulatory filing it’s still weighing options including the sale of a minority stake in Aesop. Bank of America, Morgan Stanley, CVC, L’Occitane and Shiseido declined to comment. Interest in Aesop was reported earlier by the Daily Mail.
Banco BTG Pactual SA analyst Luiz Guanais estimated last month that Aesop could be worth about 9 billion reais ($1.7 billion), considering the average multiple for global cosmetics players of about 15 times the 2022 ratio of enterprise value to earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization.
Aesop reported revenue of almost 603 million reais for the third quarter, accounting for about 7% of Natura’s total net revenue.
Sao Paulo-based Natura said on Oct. 18 that it was assessing options to unlock value at Aesop, including a possible IPO or spinoff, as the company sought to restore investor confidence. The announcement, part of a broader overhaul being orchestrated by Fabio Barbosa, who took over as chief executive officer this year, prompted JPMorgan Chase & Co. to upgrade Natura shares to overweight from neutral.
Natura reported net revenue of 9 billion reais in the third quarter, below analysts estimates of 9.29 billion reais.
The company’s shares have continued to slide and remain down 55% for the year, leaving the company with a market value of about 16 billion reais. Natura’s American depositary receipts rose as much as 3.9% in late trading Tuesday in New York.
“Unlocking value via a minority stake sale to a financial partner would be the best course of action,” Citigroup Inc. analyst Joao Pedro Soares wrote in a note. Natura “would continue to consolidate the business, and even open the door for an eventual IPO at better market conditions.”
--With assistance from Crystal Tse.
(Updates with Natura, L’Occitane and Shiseido comments in fifth paragraph and analyst note in eleventh paragraph.)
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