Waterstones backs Elliott among suitors for The Body Shop

The owner of Waterstones is among a bevy of bidders circling The Body Shop after its Brazilian owner hoisted a for sale sign over the cosmetics retailer.

Sky News has learned that Elliott Advisors, the investment firm best known for its activist campaigns against the boards of some of the world’s biggest companies, made an indicative bid for The Body Shop in the past few weeks.

It was unclear at the weekend whether Elliott remained in contention to buy the chain, which has been put up for sale by Natura, its owner since 2017.

City sources said the auction, which is being handled by bankers at Morgan Stanley, was proceeding at pace and Natura was said to be keen to reach a tentative agreement on a sale by the end of next month.

Elliott, who was among the parties originally involved in the auction of Manchester United Football Club, has become increasingly active as a private equity investor in recent years.

It owns Barnes & Noble and Waterstones, the booksellers, and has backed Claire’s, the fashion accessories chain.

The firm was also among suitors for Cineworld, the debt-ridden cinema operator, earlier this year.

Founded in 1976 by environmentalist Anita Roddick and husband Gordon, The Body Shop still has a major presence on British high streets.

It was owned by L’Oreal, the cosmetics giant, before it was sold to Natura, but has struggled to achieve profitable growth.

Elliott declined to comment.

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