JOHANNESBURG - Activist investor Dan Loeb’s pressure on Nestlé SA to sell its stake in L’Oreal SA could lead to the unwinding of another long-standing investment: L’Oreal’s 10.4 billion (R159bn) holding in French drug maker Sanofi. L’Oreal owns about 9.4percent of Sanofi, and speculation has swirled for years that the Paris-based cosmetics company would sell the stock to help pay for a repurchase of Nestlé’s L’Oreal shares. 

The pharmaceutical company's stock has returned 13percent a year over the past five years, including dividends, though the shares are down about 12percent from a record of 100.65 set in 2015. Should the sales by Nestlé and L’Oreal happen, they would be testament to the growing power of activist investors in Europe. Investors have long prodded Nestlé to sell the L’Oreal shares.