Bloomberg

Estee Lauder Cos. (NYSE: EL), making the biggest acquisition in its history, agreed to buy cosmetics company Too Faced for about $1.45 billion, scooping up a makeup brand that’s popular with millennials.

Too Faced, which is expected to top $270 million in net sales in 2016, will help Estee Lauder expand in e-commerce and specialty stores, according to a statement. The purchase is expected to be completed in December.

E-commerce has been putting pressure on traditional retailers, which has been driving M&A in the sector. For instance, Bain Capital Private Equity and Bow Street LLC have agreed to acquire online diamond ring seller Blue Nile LLC;  Invus Group LLC purchased a majority stake in Ashley Stewart Inc.; L Catterton acquired Hanna Andersson from Sun Capital Partners Inc.; and TSG Enterprises LLC has purchased Total Hockey Inc.

The deal, which would dwarf Estee Lauder’s previous acquisitions, extends a run of industry mergers this year. Coty Inc. (NYSE: COTY) acquired more than 40 of Procter & Gamble Co.’s (NYSE: PG) beauty brands in a transaction worth $12.5 billion. And Revlon Inc. (NYSE: REV) agreed to acquire Elizabeth Arden Inc. (Nasdaq: RDEN) in June for about $419 million.

Too Faced, started by Jerrod Blandino and Jeremy Johnson, would let Estee Lauder reach a younger shopper. The Los Angeles-based brand has 7.3 million Instagram followers and sells makeup for the eyes, face and lips in quirky packaging. Its best-selling mascara is called “Better Than Sex.”

“We like the acquisition,” Jason Gere, an analyst at KeyBanc Capital Markets Inc. (NYSE: KEY), said in a report. “Estee Lauder has a demonstrated history of success in driving scale of smaller, high-growth brands on its global platform.” Estee Lauder, based in New York, could use a boost after delivering a disappointing forecast to investors.

Estee Lauder suffered its worst stock rout in more than a year on Nov. 2 after saying that earnings would be $1.10 to $1.15 a share this quarter. Analysts had estimated $1.31 on average. Its shares are down 12 percent in 2016.

Chief executive officer Fabrizio Freda said that declining traffic at mid-tier U.S. department stores contributed to the slowdown. That has increased the urgency of owning brands that sell via the internet and other channels -- Too Faced’s strength. The acquisition target has seen sales grow more than 70 percent in 2016 and 60 percent on a compound annual basis over the past three years, Estee Lauder said.

“We see terrific opportunity for additional value creation through expansion in new and existing markets both in the U.S. and internationally, as well as in travel retail globally,” Freda said in a statement.

Too Faced currently gets about 83 percent of its sales from North America, meaning there’s room for growth overseas.

 Cosmetics companies have been seeking new sales channels as the department-store makeup counter loses its allure. L’Oreal SA, for instance, agreed to spend $1.2 billion to buy IT Cosmetics. That business sells through QVC and the Shopping Channel, as well as retailers such as Ulta and Sephora.

Additional Reporting by Mergers & Acquisitions' Demitri Diakantonis

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