Coty shunned after calling on Avon with $10bn bid

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The Independent Online

Avon Products, the cosmetics company, has turned its nose up at a $10bn (£6.24bn) takeover offer from the perfume maker Coty.

The bid for Avon is the boldest move so far by its chairman Bart Brecht, who has been running Coty since retiring as chief executive of the household products giant Reckitt Benckiser. Mr Becht decided to go public with details of his offer in an attempt to bounce the Avon board into talks, but they said the company was worth far more.

Acquisition-hungry Coty makes perfumes for the likes of David and Victoria Beckham, Beyoncé and J-Lo, as well as toiletries under its own brand. It is owned by the descendents of Johann Benckiser, one of Reckitt Benckiser's founders, and has annual revenues of $4bn.

It has pounced on Avon at a time the company is at its weakest, beset by bribery accusations and a leadership vacuum, having recently parted company with its long-time chief executive, Andrea Jung.

Avon today is an $11bn annual business with around 6.5 million independent sales reps in more than 100 countries.

Ms Jung, the Ivy League-educated marketing executive who had been chief executive since 1999, was hailed a hero when Avon became the first company to win a licence to sell door-to-door in China in 2006.

Corruption allegations first emerged from a whistleblower in China, who said government officials there were receiving lavish gifts from Avon employees who travelled with them. The company has also found other questionable practices far and wide, from Japan to India to Argentina.

Coty began looking at Avon last October. Avon said Coty's latest offer was no advance on one it had rejected two weeks ago.