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CALIFORNIA

Estee Lauder to Acquire Trendy Stila Cosmetics

August 06, 1999|RYAN CORMIER | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Estee Lauder Cos., snapping up another niche player in the $6-billion prestige beauty market, said Thursday that it acquired Stila Cosmetics Inc., the 5-year-old Los Angeles-based firm founded by a former makeup artist.

The terms of the Stila deal were undisclosed, but Estee Lauder spokeswoman Karen O'Connor said the acquisition fits the overall strategy of the cosmetics company, which currently coddles 12 brands under its corporate umbrella.

Stila, whose cosmetics are sold at Nordstrom, Sephora and other high-end stores, makes lip, face, eye, cheek and body products that appeal to young women who like to keep up with beauty trends and are willing to pay more than drugstore prices.

Stila founder Jeanine Lobell, who will become chief executive and president of the new company, will retain creative control over Stila's products. The 35-year-old wife of "ER" television star Anthony Edwards said in an interview that Estee Lauder will lead her company further into the international market and act as a source of guidance.

"With my background and knowledge, it is miraculous I even got as far as I have," she said. "But when you start to think about how to market your product in Taipei, you begin to lose your mind.

"Estee Lauder knows what they are doing and will hold our hand through this," she added.

Catherine Lewis, an analyst at Morgan Stanley Dean Witter, said the deal is a win-win for both companies. "Estee Lauder products are sold in 80 to 100 countries around the world, and with Stila currently being sold in only six countries, there is obviously a great opportunity to increase sales for Stila."

Estee Lauder shares rose 63 cents to close at $47.06 on the New York Stock Exchange.

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