Unilever Discussing Acquisition of Jessica Alba’s Honest Company
Unilever, which is the maker of Axe body spray and Dove soaps, is negotiating a deal that could be valued at more than $1 billion but much less than the valuation of $1.7 billion that Honest had placed on it during its last year fundraising round, said those close to the situation.
The talks remain in the early stages of negotiations and Honest still had not ruled out the option of having an initial public offering rather than a sale, said one of those close to the matter.
Honest has been able to raise over $200 million from investors since the company was founded in Santa Monica, California five years ago.
The outside investors include firms in venture capital such as Lightspeed Venture Partners and General Catalyst Partners along with money managers Wellington Management and Fidelity Management.
If the sales goes through, Honest pledged to pay certain investors double the amount of their investments.
Honest generates approximately $300 million in revenue annually, one of those close to the situation said. It sells household cleaners, baby diapers, beauty and personal care products and has created a loyal following amongst young mothers.
Many customers are buying directly from Honest’s website through subscription services. Some of its items are also being sold at retailers with brick and mortar locations including Whole Foods Markets and Target.
In acquiring Honest, Unilever would receive a foothold in the quickly expanding market of green or natural cleaning products along with a diaper business.
The business model of Honest could give more insight to Unilever into the behavior of shoppers, but it risks alienating the traditional retailers who are currently carrying its goods.
Unilever sells personal care and household products as well as packaged foods globally but it does not compete in the U.S. with Honest in a number of product categories.
In 2008, Unilever sold its laundry detergent business in North America for over $1.45 billion and recently has grown in the U.S. skin and hair care products.
Honest challenged giants like Clorox and Proctor & Gamble with promises of avoiding the harsh chemicals in a number of mainstream products.
For Unilever, the acquisition of a company like Honest would be a second purchase of recent of an e-commerce California based consumer products business. Last August it purchased Dollar Shave Club for $1 billion.
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