British chief to carry on as the face of L'Oréal

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Lindsay Owen-Jones, the British-born chief executive of L'Oréal, is to say at the helm of the French cosmetics group for at least five more years.

In an exclusive interview with The Independent on Sunday, Mr Owen-Jones, who has run L'Oréal since 1988, quashed speculation that he may retire in three years' time when he turns 60. He said: "For senior L'Oréal managers the retirement age is somewhere between 62 and 65, so the question is extremely premature."

He also gave a strong hint the group would sell its 20 per cent stake in French pharmaceutical group Sanofi-Synthelabo. It has an agreement to hold the stake, worth about €8bn (£5.6bn), until December next year. While saying no final decision has been made, Mr Owen-Jones added: "Historically we have to say that L'Oréal has been an extremely focused company on consumer marketing products."

However, he was more definite on L'Oréal's plans to expand in Japan by taking control of its partner, Shu Uemura, in which it has a 35 per cent stake. Mr Owen-Jones said Shu Uemuratook a very different position to other Japanese manufacturers and he hoped to turn L'Oréal's stake into a majority position.

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