Coty calling again with new bid for Avon

  • @ArmitageJim

The billionaire founders of Cillit Bang cleaner group Reckitt Benckiser yesterday came calling again for door-to-door cosmetics giant Avon with a $10.7bn increased bid and a threat to walk away if the target's shareholders failed to enter talks in the coming days.

Coty, the fragrances group owned by Reckitt family shareholders, the Benckisers and Reimanns, is run by former Reckitt chief executive Bart Becht. The increased bid came less than a day after the Reimanns sold a £1.3bn stake in Reckitts on Wednesday to pad out its warchest for an attack on Avon.

Reckitt fell 126p to 3,440p yesterday as investors reacted to the sale of nearly 5 per cent of the company's shares.

Avon has rejected all previous approaches from Coty, which is being backed by Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway investment group.

Mr Becht told Avon that Coty would withdraw its offer if the target company had not entered talks by the close of business on 14 May.

Avon is the world's biggest direct seller of cosmetics but is suffering falling sales in the US and faces overseas bribery allegations, about which Coty wants more details.