Co Antrim-made fake tan brand sold to US pharma firm for £27m
Self-tanning brand Vita Liberata has been sold to a US pharmaceutical firm in a deal thought to be worth up to £27m.
The Ballyclare-based company, which employs 55 people and was founded by former UTV presenter Alyson Hogg in 2003, has been taken over by Crown Laboratories in Tennessee.
The price paid has not been disclosed, but it's thought to have been in the region of $30m.
Celebrity fans of the product include Emma Watson, Sofia Vergara and Alicia Keys.
A 2009 tie-in with The X Factor, in which contestants wore Vita Liberata, first helped bring the brand to public consciousness.
It's been described as the world's first completely non-toxic and odourless tanning product and is stocked in pharmacy chains and used in spas in luxury hotels such as the George V in Paris.
The move makes Ms Hogg the president of consumer brands for Crown Laboratories, where her portfolio will include Blue Lizard Australian Sunscreen.
The purchase has been backed by Hildred Capital Partners. The deal was made by Vita Liberata's former investor, Irish venture capital firm Broadlake.
Ms Hogg said: "Crown and Hildred have a genuine understanding of the suncare market and a very impressive vision for the Vita Liberata brand.
"We are thrilled to partner with them to leverage Crown's strong positioning within the dermatology space and advance our mission of making self-tanning a viable alternative to sun exposure for all."
In August she told the Belfast Telegraph she was proud of the brand's impact. "At the end of my life, if I can say I made women smile, that will be very satisfying," she said.
Jeff Bedard, Crown Laboratories' president and chief executive, said: "Alyson and her entire team have done a remarkable job disrupting the self-tanning space, and we look forward to welcoming them to the Crown family.
Pete Smyth of Broadlake said the company had enjoyed "phenomenal growth". He praised the work of Belfast-based solicitors Tughans, who advised Vita Liberata. "Their commitment was absolute and their focus and attention to detail ensured a successful outcome," he added.