US cosmetics company Avon announced Thursday a partnership with investment firm Cerberus in which it will receive an infusion of $605 million in exchange for control of Avon North America.
Under the deal, Cerberus Capital Management will invest $435 million in Avon Products to acquire a 16.6 percent stake in the company.
Also, Avon North America will be separated from the rest of the company in exchange for an additional $170 million to Avon. Cerberus will have an 80 percent stake in Avon North America.
Avon, which was started in 1886 and is known for its direct-selling model, said the deal will enable it to boost its focus on overseas markets, where it sees more potential for growth. Revenues have declined at Avon the last three years.
In 2014, only about 14 percent of Avon's $8.9 billion in sales came from North America. The biggest revenue stream was from Latin America, with $4.2 billion. The company also has a research and development facility in Shanghai and satellite R&D operations in Argentina, Mexico, Poland and South Africa, among other countries.
"There is high potential for the Avon brand and business model in both our international business and Avon North America," said Avon chief executive Sheri McCoy.
"However, we believe that the separation of Avon North America is the best way to ensure that both businesses have an unencumbered path to profitability and growth."
Cerberus said it plans updates to the North American product portfolio and new incentive programs to encourage better performance from the 400,000 Avon representatives in the region.
"We are strong believers in the direct-selling model, the principle of empowering representatives, and the growth that direct selling can generate when representatives are appropriately supported and incentivized to build their businesses," said Cerberus senior managing director Steven Mayer.
Avon said it would use $100 million from the proceeds to offset liabilities under the transaction, about $250 million to "opportunistically" reduce debt and the rest on reinvestment and restructuring.
Avon also plans to suspend its dividend in concert with Thursday's moves.
Shares of Avon rose 1.3 percent to $4.15 in early-afternoon trade.