A secret recording of conversations between Liliane Bettencourt - the main shareholder in L'Oreal with a 30.8% share and France's richest woman - and her lawyers have fueled an investigation. The scandal was triggered with the leaking of tapes of a conversation by a butler allegedly between Mrs Bettencourt and Patrice de Maistre, her main financial adviser. The conversation hints at possible tax irregularities relating to the billionaire’s finances. They are likely to fuel speculation of a takeover of L'Oreal by Nestle, the Swiss food group that already holds a 29.6 per cent stake. A french court is set to investigate and rule on the matter.
21% of the company's sales occurred in the United States, meaning a decrease in consumer spending in America has had a big impact on the company. In addition, the company owns a number of luxury brands such as Yves Saint Laurent. In the financial crisis consumers have switched to cheaper brands.