U.S. Approves Merger of Shampoo Giants

     WASHINGTON (CN) – The Department of Justice settled an antitrust complaint against Unilever’s $3.7 billion purchase of Alberto-Culver Co., by having Alberto-Culver sell its VO5 shampoo and hair-care products in the United States, and Unilever sell off its Rave brand, also only in the United States.

     Uncle Sam said the acquisition, proposed in 2010, would reduce competition in hair-care products, giving the new, combined company “approximately 90 percent of the sales of value shampoo and conditioner.”
     Unilever and its subsidiary Conopco own “more than 400 brands of consumer products, including Hellmann’s, Lipton, Surf, Dove, Suave, and Vaseline,” according to the settled complaint. It reported $62 billion in sales in 2010.
     Alberto-Culver’s Suave Naturals account for “approximately 50 percent of value shampoo and conditioner sales,” the government says. And Alberto-Culver’s hairsprays control 24 percent of the U.S. Marker. Alberto-Culver reported $1.6 billion in sales in 2010.
     “The markets for value shampoo and conditioner are highly concentrated. By unit volume, Unilever’s share in each market is approximately 50 percent, and Alberto Culver’s share is approximately 39 percent in each market,” the government said. The merger would allow Unilever to “control approximately 46 percent of hairspray sold through retail stores.”
     The complaint states: “The proposed acquisition would make Unilever the largest seller of hairspray in the United States by increasing its market share from approximately 24 percent to over 45 percent.”
     The Department of Justice said Unilever and Alberto-Culver Company have agreed to its proposed final judgment.

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