A cosmetic display of French cosmetics group L'Oreal is seen at an Auchan supermarket in Nice, France. File picture: Eric Gaillard
Paris - L'Oreal has chosen Brazilian cosmetics firm Natura Cosmeticos as well as private equity bidders for the next round of the auction for its Body Shop business, people familiar with the matter said.

CVC Capital Partners, Advent International. and Investindustrial Advisers are also among the firms taken through, the people said, asking not to be identified because the process is private.

Bids for the lotions and soaps retailer came in at more than 800 million euros (R11.23 billion), they said. Binding offers are due in early June, one of the people said.

L’Oreal bought the Body Shop, founded in 1976 by British entrepreneur Anita Roddick, more than a decade ago in a deal that valued it at £652 million (R10.93 billion).

The company said last week that it hasn’t yet made a decision on the future of the chain, which saw operating profit drop 38 percent to 33.8 million euros last year.

Representatives for L’Oreal, CVC and Advent declined to comment. Investindustrial and Natura didn’t immediately respond to requests.

Body Shop had drawn initial bids from around 15 companies, people familiar with the matter said earlier this month. Its French parent company had said in February that it would explore all strategic options for the business, which has been struggling with heavy competition.

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An acquisition by Natura would be a major retail expansion for the Brazilian cosmetics company, following up on its $70 million purchase of Australia’s Aesop in 2013.

Until then, the São Paulo-based company had built its business on Avon-like door-to-door sales.

Aesop now has 261 locations in 20 countries, and Natura opened five stores under its own brand last year in Sao Paulo. The Body Shop has more than 3000 locations worldwide, about two-thirds of which are franchised.

Tumultous year

Natura is coming out of a tumultuous year that saw the exit of chief executive Roberto Oliveira de Lima, whose attempt to raise prices backfired.

Net sales rose 0.2 percent last year to 7.91 billion reais (R32.85 billion). The Body Shop’s total sales, including e-commerce and franchises, fell 2 percent to 1.48 billion.

Natura shares were up 32 percent this year to Thursday. Brazilian trading was closed Friday for a holiday.