UPDATE 3-Avon bribery probe deal could hit $132 mln; sales continue slide

jueves 13 de febrero de 2014 12:33 GYT

By Phil Wahba

Feb 13 (Reuters) - Avon Products Inc said on Thursday it could end up paying as much as $132 million to settle a U.S. bribery probe into its efforts to develop new markets, the first time the beauty-products company has given an estimate for a penalty.

While Chief Executive Officer Sheri McCoy said Avon has made "significant" progress in talks with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and Department of Justice and has enough money to pay for any settlement, the company warned there were no assurances it would reach a deal.

The world's largest direct seller of beauty products also reported another quarter of disappointing results, with lower-than-expected revenue caused by a sales decline in the emerging markets it Avon has bet on to make up for dwindling U.S. sales.

Shares fell nearly 1 percent at $14.92 in late-morning trading.

The U.S. government's investigation began in 2011, following an internal probe by Avon that started in 2008 into allegations of improper payments in China. Avon's own probe has already cost the company about $300 million.

Avon said the deal to settle the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act investigation could range between $89 million and $132 million.

A settlement at the high end of that range would not crack the top 10 largest settlements, but would be one of the largest from an U.S. company, according to a list from a popular blog on the law, FCPA Blog.   Continuación...