Business

FTC wants to stop P&G from buying razor startup Billie

Posted December 8, 2020 6:08 p.m. EST

— The Federal Trade Commission is continuing its crackdown on consolidation in the razor business.

The FTC on Tuesday announced that it will file a lawsuit to keep Proctor & Gamble, the world's largest consumer goods company, from acquiring Billie, an upstart seller of women's razors and personal care products.

Eight months ago, the antitrust agency made a similar move, suing to stop Schick-owner Edgewell Personal Care from absorbing Harry's, a men's razor startup. The FTC claimed the $1.4 billion Harry's buyout would "remove a critical disruptive rival that has driven down prices and spurred innovation" in an industry long-dominated by two main suppliers: Edgewell and P&G.

The Billie deal would present similar problems, according to a statement from the FTC.

Billie, founded in 2017, became a market disruptor selling razors and other products directly to consumers while championing an effort to topple the "pink tax," a practice of pricing women's products higher than men's goods.

"As its sales grew, Billie was likely to expand into brick-and-mortar stores, posing a serious threat to P&G," Ian Conner, director of the FTC'S Bureau of Competition, said in a statement. "If P&G can snuff out Billie's rapid competitive growth, consumers will likely face higher prices."

Billie could not be reached for comment.

A P&G spokesperson told CNN Business via email that the company was disappointed by the FTC's decision.

"We are considering our options in light of the decision and do not have any further comments at this time," said Erica Noble, a P&G spokesperson.

P&G, which owns brands such as Gillette, Venus and Joy, had 50.3% market share of the women's razors and blades business in 2019, according to Euromonitor. That was followed by Edgewell at 17.1% and Bic at 16.3%.

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