The New Shine on Alberto-Culver

L'Oreal is said to be stalking the hair-care outfit, and P&G may be preparing its own bid. The big draw: Culver's distribution chain

With the acquisitions of Clairol in 2001 and Wella last year, Procter & Gamble (PG ) gave notice it wants to usurp L'Oreal as the global leader in hair-care products. Clairol gave the Cincinnati-based consumer-product giant a colorant business, second only to its stylish French rival. Wella offered a big foothold in the highly profitable salon arena, another place where L'Oreal rules. Now, P&G's push could be blunted if L'Oreal acquires Alberto-Culver (ACV ).

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