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Unilever Reaches Deal To Buy Helene Curtis

Beauty products maker Helene Curtis Industries Inc., pressured by shareholders and bigger competitors, said Wednesday it has agreed to a $770 million buyout offer from Anglo-Dutch company Unilever NV.

The company becomes the second U.S. beauty products maker targeted this year by a foreign rival with deeper pockets. Memphis, Tenn.-based Maybelline Inc. agreed to a $610 million offer from French rival L’Oreal SA last month.

“In the last few years, it’s become apparent that if we are to remain successful and to continue providing opportunities for our people, we must seek partnerships that offer us the additional resources necessary to stay competitive,” said Ronald J. Gidwitz, president and chief executive of Helene Curtis.

Unilever’s business savvy and capital base, combined with Helene Curtis’ knowledge of the hair care market, would make major inroads in the United States and abroad, said Prudential Securities Research analyst Bonita Austin.

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