With news circulating that Elizabeth Arden is for sale, interest in a possible buyer, namely South Korea-based LG Household & Healthcare, has the industry asking: Who is LG?

Whether Arden has been actively pursuing a buyer is unclear, and reports it has secured Goldman Sachs to advise are unconfirmed. Earlier this week both declined comment on the matter.

What is certain is that LG is a company with greater global beauty aspirations. Last June it secured a business base in North America with the acquisition of Canadian bath and body retailer Fruits & Passion. F&P has 2,000 retail points across Canada, Europe, Asia and the Middle East. In its year-end report, LG stated a primary plan for 2014 is to “fast forward” its beauty business into international markets. The company has three divisions – household goods which include hair care and body care, cosmetics (facial skin care and color) and beverages. Their beauty brands cut across prestige and masstige with Elastine shampoo, Whoo skin care and VDL color cosmetics among them. Since 2005, LG’s total revenues have grown from $937.6 million (968 billion KRW) to $4.19 billion (4,326 billion KRW). In the first quarter of 2014, its prestige beauty segment grew 16%.

LG intends first to “stabilize and revitalize overseas subsidiaries already acquired in China, Japan, South East Asia and North America.” Business growth will come through expansion of its brands into these new markets, with VDL cosmetics among the first, along with pursuing “sizable” mergers and acquisitions – perhaps like Elizabeth Arden, a $1.3 billion company.

Is Arden in Play?

KeyBanc Capital Markets analyst Jason Gere expressed surprise that Arden could be considering a sale. The company has just hired a new CFO and head of international business strategy to evaluate its direction, he pointed out.

“Second, with the U.S. mass channel challenged, the Western European fragrance initiative slowing and the Elizabeth Arden brand repositioning not expanding as fast as once hoped, there are a lot of balls juggling in the air at the same time for Arden management,” he wrote in a research note, “which makes it more risky for a potential buyer to `plug and play’ the portfolio into its own.”

Selling out to a multinational beauty company now, namely Coty, which has also emerged a possible suitor, suggests Arden management realizes it “needs a bigger infrastructure in place to expand the EA brand globally,” added Jason.

If Arden is for sale, “maybe L’Oreal, Lauder or Avon may want to cherry pick a couple of their fragrances,” commented industry consultant Allan Mottus.

“A sale would be viable at some price. But how many companies can use Arden brands to fill their portfolio? I do think they have a relatively good Asian business, so (selling to LG) could be a good plan.”

On Monday Arden stock remained elevated, closing at 36.14. The day before LG named it as a takeover target, it had closed at 28.22.