UPDATE 3-L'Occitane's billionaire owner Geiger to take firm private in $1.8 bln deal

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Adds share price move, background

- Hong Kong-listed L'Occitane International's 0973.HK chairman and controlling shareholder will take the French skin-care firm private, valuing it at a maximum of HK$13.91 billion ($1.78 billion), the company said on Monday.

Shares of L'Occitane jumped as much as 12.9% to HK$33.30, their highest since January 2022, when the company resumed trading on Tuesday.

Reuters reported in early April that L'Occitane's Chairman Reinold Geiger was in advanced talks with investors and lenders about the deal, with U.S. private equity giant Blackstone BX.N looking to provide debt financing to fund the deal.

As part of the deal, Austrian billionaire Geiger's investment holding company L'Occitane Groupe in Luxembourg will pay HK$34 for each share not already owned, representing a 30.8% premium to the stock's last close of HK$26 on Feb. 5.

L'Occitane Groupe owned 72.39% of the cosmetics company at March-end.

The investment holding firm does not intend to increase the offer price for the deal, which comes a few months after Geiger shelved a buyout attempt for the company.

Geiger plans to finance a part of the deal using external debt facilities acquired from affiliates of Blackstone and Goldman Sachs Group. A source told Reuters on Monday the investment firms would provide 1.55 billion euros in financing to support the take-private.

L'Occitane International's shares were halted on April 9.

J.P. Morgan will be the financial adviser for L'Occitane Groupe.

Geiger had decided against a deal to take the company private last September, triggering a drag in the shares.

The company said in August if a deal were to go through, the potential offer price would be no less than HK$26.00 per share.

L'Occitane listed in Hong Kong in 2010, and was one of the first Western companies to sell its primary shares in the Asian financial hub at the time.

The L'Occitane brand started as a local essential oil business in France's Provence and now has products including soap, creams and fragrance.

L'Occitane Groupe, headquartered in Luxembourg, owns 8 brands with more than 3,000 retail locations and 1,300 own stores in 90 countries, its website shows.


($1 = 7.8265 Hong Kong dollars)


(Reporting by Roushni Nair and Himanshi Akhand in Bengaluru and Kane Wu in Hong Kong; Editing by Krishna Chandra Eluri, Sherry Jacob-Phillips and Shounak Dasgupta and Miral Fahmy)

((Himanshi.Akhand@thomsonreuters.com))

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