Coty Draws on Trott’s Underdog Experience to Pursue Avon

Byron D. Trott has once again popped up in a multibillion-dollar fight where a company is trying to punch above its weight.

Trott’s Chicago-based advisory and investment firm, BDT Capital Partners, is working with Coty Inc. on its unsolicited $10 billion effort to acquire Avon Products Inc., a company that has more than two times Coty’s annual revenue. Coty said yesterday BDT is acting as an adviser and lining up equity financing for the deal from Coty’s majority owner, Joh. A Benckiser, and unidentified investors in BDT’s funds.

It’s at least the third time in recent years that BDT has advised a company trying to pursue a larger rival after working with Hershey Co.’s trust and U.S. pump and valve maker Colfax Corp. Trott, a former managing director at Goldman Sachs Group Inc., has relationships with Warren Buffett, the Pritzker family and the S.C. Johnson family. He started BDT in 2009 and focuses on family-owned businesses.

Coty is also working with JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Blackstone Group LP’s advisory practice, the 39th-ranked adviser for mergers and acquisitions so far this year, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. JPMorgan, the No. 2 ranked takeover adviser worldwide, is arranging debt financing for a deal.

A spokeswoman for Trott said he was unable to comment on Coty’s bid for Avon.

Trott’s Advisory Work

In September, BDT advised and helped arrange financing for Colfax in a $2.4 billion bid for Charter International Plc, Europe’s biggest welding equipment maker. Charter’s annual sales were five times as large as those of Colfax, which completed the acquisition this year.

Trott advised the charitable trust that controls Hershey in 2009 and 2010 when the chocolate maker was considering making an offer for Cadbury Plc in an effort to outbid Kraft Foods Inc., people familiar with the matter said at the time. Trott and JPMorgan were teamed up on that potential deal as well and would have provided the financing, the people said. Both Kraft and Cadbury were much larger than Hershey, which ultimately didn’t make an offer.

“He has great relationships with a lot of families and with Buffett and closely held businesses,” said Steve Kaplan, a professor at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. Trott also was a very successful banker at Goldman Sachs and has “expertise in beauty products and consumer goods,” he said.

Trott received a master’s degree in business administration from the University of Chicago in 1982.

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