South Korean cosmetics manufacturer Soleo Cosmetic is looking for an investor to buy a controlling stake in the company after its failed attempt to list shares last year.
Samjong KPMG has been hired to lead the sale process, industry sources said. Min Ji-hyun, Soleo’s chief executive, is the largest shareholder with a 29% stake, and a family member owns 20.6%, according to the company’s latest audited financial statements.
Founded in 1997, Soleo started as a company developing cosmetic ingredients, and now has expanded its business to include original equipment manufacturing and original design manufacturing. It has plants and a research and development center in Gyeonggi Province.
Soles had intended to list on Kosdaq last year after a strong performance. Its 2018 revenue rose 4.5 times year-on-year to 82.4 billion won ($73.8 million) and its operating income soared from 200 million won to 8.5 billion won in the same period.
The rapid growth was largely attributable to GP Club, a South Korean cosmetics manufacturing and distribution company that is Soleo’s biggest customer. In 2018, GP Club’s revenue and operating income increased nearly sixfold and tenfold respectively.
But sales of both GP Club and Soleo fell significantly in 2019. Soleo’s revenue and operating income plunged 11.7% and 45.4% respectively, derailing the IPO plans.
“Soleo Cosmetic, like other Korean cosmetics companies, has been hit hard in recent years by a large decrease in Chinese visitors,” an industry insider said. “Investors also have concerns about its excessive reliance on GP Club.
“I think it’s uncertain whether the company can attract sufficient interest from potential buyers,” the insider added. (Reporting by Byung-yoon Kim)