Unilever Buys Alberto Culver for $3.7 billion

Consumer products giant Unilever is buying US skin and haircare company Alberto Culver for $3.7 billion (that’s more than Airtran Airways is worth). Forbes has more:

Alberto Culver’s roster includes TRESemmé, VO5, Nexxus and St. Ives. Unilever said it would now become the world’s leading company in hair conditioning, the second largest in shampoo and the third largest in styling.

Ten years ago Unilever’s own personal-care segment, which includes Lynx deodorant and Dove soap, represented 20% of its sales. Now it represents more than 30%. The industry is seeing the most growth potential in emerging markets, where there is more demand among the burgeoning middle classes of countries like China and India for beauty and skin-care products.

Sales of personal care products in the BRIC nations are projected to grow by more than 40% between 2009 and 2014, according to Datamonitor research. “The industry as a whole has been growing despite the recession because people aren’t prepared to cut back on personal care because of the feel-good factor,” said Mark Whalley, a consumer goods analyst at Datamonitor. “In these emerging markets there’s a certain degree of following Western fashion trends, and using these kinds of more expensive products.”

Unilever is not the only player seeking acquisitions in the personal-care segment. Peer Reckitt Benckiser, which makes cleaning products like Finish dishwashing power, bought London-based SSL International, the maker of Durex condoms and Scholl foot care products, earlier this year for $2.3 billion.

“The purchase makes Unilever the biggest maker of hair conditioning products in the world, the second-largest in shampoo and the No. 3 in styling,” according to Bloomberg. It, along with Proctor & Gamble, now pretty much own your drugstore’s hair- and soap shelves. Here’s the new and impressive list of Unilever personal care brands:

Dove
Lynx
V05
TRESemme
Nexxus
St. Ives
Noxzema
Vaseline
Pond’s
Rexona
Axe
Lux
Sunsilk
Suave
Sure
Simple
Signal
CloseUP
TIGI salon brands
Soft & Beautiful
Just For Me
Motions
TCB
FDS
Consort

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