Bettencourt: Nestle no threat to L’Oreal

By Andrew McDougall

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags L'oréal

L’Oreal billionaire shareholder Lilian Bettencourt has said that the food giant poses no threat to L’Oreal’s interests or independence, and has reiterated her position and passion for the cosmetics company.

Speaking to French daily Le Figaro, Bettencourt was keen to move on from the problems surrounding family disputes with her daughter, and focus fully on L’Oreal and its business.

“I wish to continue my tenure as director I am the founder’s daughter, I am L’Oreal’s spirit and the main shareholder,”​ she said.

Nestle currently holds a 30 per cent stake in the cosmetics giant, and chairman Peter Brabeck announced last week that the firm would not decide on what to do with its share until 2014.

Spoken with Nestle chairman

Bettencourt continued stating that her heart was in L’Oreal, and that in light of this announcement she does not see Nestle as a threat to L’Oreal’s interests.

“I do not think Nestle opposes L’Oreal’s interests and independence. I have spoken with Peter Brabeck, who I have known for a long time and respect very much,”​ she said.

And when questioned on speculation that she was considering selling the Bettencourt family’s 31 per cent stake in the cosmetic group, France’s richest woman denied all claims.

“I want to underline the independence of L’Oreal,”​ she said. “L’Oreal needs a strong structure. I have always been opposed to leaving L’Oreal.”

Speculation over Nestle announcement last week

The year 2014 is significant because it marks the end of a 10-year standstill agreement that does not allow Nestlé to sell its stake in the L’Oréal business, which is still majority owned by the Bettencourt family.

Nestlé first acquired the stake in L’Oreal more than 30 years ago. In 2004 it owned a 26.4 per cent stake, which subsequently rose to 30 per cent after further investments.

Last year there was significant speculation over whether or not Nestlé were considering raising their investment in the world’s biggest cosmetic and personal care company.

However, this speculation was quashed at the end of last year in an interview with French magazine Le Point, when L’Oréal chairman Lindsay Owen-Jones was quoted as saying that a takeover bid by the Swiss food company was ‘unlikely’.

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