Makeup brand Charlotte Tilbury nears sale for $1 billion


Celebrity makeup brand Charlotte Tilbury is nearing a sale to Puig, the Spanish company behind Paco Rabanne perfumes, in a deal valuing the business at more than $1 billion, people familiar with the matter said.

An agreement to buy U.K.-based Tilbury could be announced as early as this week, said the people, who asked not to be identified because discussions are private. Puig, which also sells Jean Paul Gaultier and Nina Ricci fragrances, is in talks to team up with Byron Trott’s investment firm BDT Capital Partners on the purchase, the people said.

Charlotte Tilbury is a London-born makeup artist who founded her namesake brand in 2013. She plans to keep a minority stake in the business, which is famous for products such as Magic Cream moisturizer and Pillow Talk lipstick, the people said. If a deal is finalized, Puig will have beaten out competition from consumer giants including Unilever, according to the people.

A successful transaction would show that large consumer companies still have an appetite to buy independent brands favored by younger shoppers, despite the coronavirus pandemic that’s ended a decade-long boom in dealmaking. L’Oreal SA, Estée Lauder Cos. and Japanese beauty company Shiseido Co. also expressed interest in an acquisition of Tilbury, Bloomberg News has previously reported.

No final decisions have been made, and the talks could still be delayed or fall apart, they said. Representatives for Puig, Charlotte Tilbury and BDT didn’t respond to requests for comment. A representative for Unilever declined to comment.

Any deal would represent a rare example of a major British business sold in an auction process since the coronavirus outbreak. After KKR & Co.’s 4.2 billion-pound ($5.2 billion) acquisition of U.K. waste management provider Viridor Ltd. in March, several sale processes have been shelved. Walmart Inc. put its planned disposal of the Asda supermarket chain on hold to focus management’s attention on responding to the crisis, people with knowledge of the matter said in April.

Charlotte Tilbury, who grew up around creative types on the Spanish island of Ibiza, made her name working with supermodels such as Kate Moss and actresses including Penelope Cruz. The company received an investment from venture capital firm Sequoia Capital in 2017.