The British-Dutch multinational company Unilever is interested in acquiring Jessica Alba’s The Honest Company, which is known for its eco-friendly and nontoxic household products, said an anonymous person close to the matter at hand.

Details about the deal are scarce. Neither Unilever nor The Honest Co. has commented on the matter to the press. The giant Unilever, which was funded eighty-six years ago, apparently seeks to acquire the much smaller and younger The Honest Company for about a billion dollars. The latter is valued at 1.7 billion dollars. Unilever owns over four hundred brands, including Dove, Ben&Jerry’s, Axe, Lipton, and Gilette.

The Honest Company, Jessica Alba
Jessica Alba promotes The Honest Company. Image credit: The Honest Company.

Unilever is no stranger to striking deals to acquire other companies and their brands. Just last year, the British-Dutch multinational reached an agreement to acquire the British skincare brand REN Skincare.

In May 2015, the company went on and acquired Kate Somerville Skincare LLC, while in October of that same year it purchased GROM, an Italian premium ice cream maker. In July 2016, Unilever bought the American start-up Dollar Shave Club for a reported sum of a billion dollars in cash.

Unilever the giant

Unilever was founded in 1930 by the merger of a Dutch margarine producer, Margarine Unie, and a British soapmaker, the Lever Brothers. The company proceeded to expand and diversify its operations as years passed.

The biggest expansion occurred after the market for margarine stagnated and Procter & Gamble fiercely competed with their soaps and detergents around the sixties. Historical acquisitions by Unilever include Lipton Ltd. in 1971 and Brooke Bond in 1984. The latter would become the company’s first successful hostile takeover.

Their numerous acquisitions have been key in their efforts to diversify. Unilever is the world’s third-largest consumer goods company, and the largest producer of food spreads. Additionally, Unilever is a dual-listed company: Unilever N.V. (Rotterdam) and Unilever PLC (London) act as a single business.

The Honest Company might not be so honest

The Honest Company was co-founded five years ago by Jessica Alba, alongside Brian Lee, Sean Kane, Christopher Gavigan and Maria Ivette. The company made itself recognized for providing non-toxic and eco-friendly alternatives to the typical household products that contain synthetic ingredients.

Jessica Alba founded the company under the premise that household items need to be “affordable, effective, nontoxic, and aesthetically pleasing.” The company, however, has had its share of controversy. Last year was discovered that one of their sunblocks had reduced levels of zinc oxide, meaning it couldn’t protect the skin.

In March 2016 there were reports that their liquid laundry detergent product had significant levels of sodium lauryl sulfate, which Honest Co. had previously stated would never use in their products. The following month, The Honest Company was being sued for having 11 synthetic substances in their “organic” Premium Infant Formula and eleven substances prohibited under federal law to be included in organic products.

Source: Chicago Tribune