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Goldman Sachs, Bain to buy majority stake in cosmetics firm Carver Korea: Reuters

(Reuters) — Goldman Sachs Group Inc (GS.N) and Bain Capital Private Equity will acquire a majority stake in unlisted cosmetics maker Carver Korea Co Ltd, seeking to tap into the growing popularity of South Korean beauty products in markets such as China.

The companies said in a joint release that Carver Korea founder and Chairman Lee Sang-rok, who held a 60.2 percent stake in the firm at end-2015, will retain a minority stake and “participate in day-to-day management”.

Details, including the price and specific stakes the foreign buyers are getting, were not disclosed. But a person familiar with the matter told Reuters that Goldman and Bain together are paying more than 350 billion won ($307.45 million) to get majority ownership of Carver.

The acquisition comes as the so-called Korean Wave of culture exports, from soap operas and K-pop music to food and fashion, boost overseas demand for beauty products. Major domestic brands such as Amorepacific Corp (090430.KS) have been among the chief beneficiaries, with their share prices soaring on hopes for sustained growth.

Kyobo Securities said in a report South Korean exports of cosmetics products set a quarterly record of $874.3 million in April-June, thanks to growing shipments to China and the United States.

January-May sales for Carver, which owns beauty product brands including flagship skincare line A.H.C., were up more than 200 percent from a year earlier and topped the 150 billion won figure for all of 2015, the joint statement from Carver, Goldman and Bain said.

Carver sells about 1,000 products in South Korea, China and the U.S.

The acquisition follows other foreign investment into South Korean cosmetics firms, such as Estee Lauder Companies Inc (EL.N) acquiring a stake of unknown size in the parent firm of Korean skincare brand Dr.Jart+ in October 2015.

Also last year, China’s Jumei International Holding Ltd (JMEI.N) invested about $125 million in the “snail cream” maker Its Skin Co Ltd (226320.KS), while another China investor Lancy Group acquired 10 percent of unlisted “mask pack” maker L&P Cosmetics Co Ltd for $51 million, according to Its Skin and L&P Cosmetics officials.

Officials at Jumei and Lancy could not be immediately reached for comment.

South Korea’s cosmetics output grew to 10.7 trillion won in 2015, up 20 percent from the previous year, while cosmetics exports grew 44 percent from the previous year to $2.59 billion in 2015 due to growing overseas popularity of “K-beauty” products, according to the country’s Ministry of Food and Drug Safety.