Photographer: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg

Unilever Acquires U.S. Personal-Care Company Sundial Brands

Unilever, the maker of Dove soap and Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, is acquiring Sundial Brands to expand its offering of hair- and skin-care products aimed at black women.

New York-based Sundial, founded in 1991 by Liberian immigrants, makes brands such as SheaMoisture, Nubian Heritage, Madam C.J. Walker and Nyakio. While terms of the transaction were not disclosed, Sundial Brands expects revenue this year of about $240 million, Unilever said in a statement Monday.

The takeover follows Unilever’s investment earlier this year in Beauty Bakerie, a cosmetics maker based in San Diego that’s backed by Lazard Managing Director William Lewis and American Express Chief Executive Officer Kenneth Chenault.

Businesses such as Sundial Brands and Beauty Bakerie have garnered a following among young Africans, African-American and other black women, whose spending power is being increasingly targeted by consumer giants. L’Oreal, for example, has built a hair-care research center in Johannesburg to increase sales on the African continent. Last month, French luxury-goods maker LVMH beat estimates for third-quarter sales in part on the strength of Fenty Beauty by Rihanna, a new makeup line developed with the Barbadian pop singer.

As part of the agreement announced Monday, Unilever and Sundial are creating the New Voices Fund with an initial investment of $50 million to “empower women of color entrepreneurs.”

Sundial will operate as a standalone business and continue to be led by Chief Executive Officer Richelieu Dennis, Unilever said.

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