Estee Lauder Cos Inc said on Tuesday it agreed to buy U.S. fashion label Tom Ford for $2.8 billion, its biggest deal yet, adding a line of beauty products and apparel to the Clinique brand owner’s portfolio.
Luxury companies have so far enjoyed steady demand for their products, but cracks are starting to show as decades-high inflation forces some customers to tighten their purses.
Estee said this month U.S. retailers were cutting stocks of its products amid worries of a demand slowdown and lowered its full-year forecasts, hurt by lockdowns in China.
While Estee Lauder already sells Tom Ford beauty products and fragrances, the deal has raised some eyebrows on Wall Street.
“Given the strength of Tom Ford Beauty, especially in ELâ€™s most significant long-term growth market of China, we understand the appeal of the deal, but handling the fashion businesses leaves some questions,” Raymond James analyst Olivia Tong wrote in a note dated Nov. 14.
The deal is the latest in a series of acquisitions by Estee Lauder, including taking control of Ordinary skincare brand owner Deciem last year for about $1 billion. As of Tuesday’s close, Estee’s stock fell 17% since the deal talks with Tom Ford were reported by the media in August.
Tom Ford had entered into exclusive negotiations with Estee Lauder last week, beating competing bids from companies including Gucci owner Kering SA, the Financial Times reported on Friday.
Estee expects to fund the transaction through a combination of cash, debt and $300 million in deferred payments to sellers that become due beginning in July 2025, the company said.
Chief Executive Officer Tom Ford will continue to serve as the brand’s creative visionary.
Perella Weinberg Partners LP served as financial adviser to Estee, while Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP was its legal counsel. Goldman Sachs & Co. LLC was Tom Ford’s financial adviser and Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP its legal counsel.
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