Procter & Gamble has called off its planned takeover of women’s razor startup Billie, citing regulatory action to block the deal as anti-competitive.
The Federal Trade Commission filed a complaint last month alleging the deal was “likely to result in significant harm by eliminating competition between the market leader and an important and growing head-to-head competitor.”
P&G owns the Gillette razor brand while Billie has found a market niche by selling discounted women’s razors and attacking the industry for its “pink tax” practice of charging more for women’s products.
“We were disappointed by the FTC’s decision and maintain there was exciting potential in combining Billie with P&G to better serve more consumers around the world,” the companies said in a joint statement on Tuesday.
However, they added, “after due consideration, we have mutually agreed that it is in both companies’ best interests not to engage in a prolonged legal challenge, but instead to terminate our agreement and refocus our resources on other business priorities.”
P&G announced in January 2020 it would acquire New York-based Billie for an undisclosed sum. The consumer products giant said the subscription-based, direct-to-consumer brand “complemented” its own razor product portfolio dominated by the Gillette and Venus brands.
“The proposed acquisition came after years of declining market share for P&G as similar digitally-focused discount razor competitors, such as Dollar Shave Club and Harry’s, emerged to challenge the company’s worldwide dominance in shaving,” the Cincinnati Enquirer said.
Grooming was the only unit that posted a sales decline when P&G reported its quarterly results in October 2019. The purchase of Billie will “allow us to further reach millennial and Gen Z women through a fresh, bold attitude,” the unit’s chief executive said.
But the FTC claimed the merger would likely harm consumers through higher prices for women’s razors and “arrests Billie’s progress as it was on the cusp of expanding into brick-and-mortar retail stores.”
“Procter & Gamble’s abandonment of the acquisition of Billie is good news for consumers who value low prices, quality, and innovation,” Ian Conner, director of the FTC’s bureau of competition, said Tuesday.