CMC’s Fancl Asia Picks Bain, Carlyle for Next Round Bids

Buyout firmsBlackstone Group Inc. andCarlyle Group Inc. were picked to participate in the next round of bidding for Japanese skincare brand Fancl’s Asia business outside its home country, people with knowledge of the matter said.

CMC Holdings Ltd., which is selling the business, has also invitedBain Capital andCitic Capital Holdings Ltd. to proceed to the second phase of bidding, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the matter is private. Some of the suitors could consider teaming up with technology companies for joint offers, the people said.

The Hong Kong-based company is working with adviserMorgan Stanley to seek more than $600 million for the asset, the people said. It expects to further narrow the list of candidates around mid-January and call for binding bids by the end of February, according to one of the people. CMC is seeking to conclude a deal in the first quarter of next year, the person said.

Deliberations are ongoing and potential bidders might not proceed with offers, the people said. Representatives for Bain Capital, Blackstone, Carlyle, Citic Capital, CMC and Morgan Stanley declined to comment on the matter.

Fancl’s skincare products and nutritional supplements are marketed as being free from preservatives and other chemicals. The Japanese firm was founded in 1981, according to itswebsite.

CMC Holdings, owned by Hong Kong entrepreneur Christopher Chan and his wife, has been Fancl’s exclusive distributor for Asia outside Japan since 1996, Fancl Corp.filings show. The China and Hong Kong product distribution agreement will expire in roughly six years, while the contract for the rest of the region will lapse in about nine years, people familiar with the matter told Bloomberg News in November.

CMC operates over 240 Fancl stores across Asia outside Japan, including more than 190 in China. It employs about 1,300 people and had annual revenue of more than $250 million last year. The company is planning the launch of an official e-commerce site, one of the people familiar with the matter said.

— With assistance by Cathy Chan

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