firm Nanda -report@
* L'Oreal preferred bidder for 70 pct stake worth $375 mln
* Nanda's clothing, cosmetics brands popular among Chinese (Add no comments from L'Oreal and UBS, context on foreign investment in South Korean cosmetics, Nanda company details)
SEOUL, April 10 (Reuters) - French cosmetics group L'Oreal SA has been picked as the preferred bidder to buy 70 percent of South Korean fashion and cosmetics firm Nanda, in a deal estimated at 400 billion won ($375 million), Korea Economic Daily reported on Tuesday, citing investment banking sources.
The deal would make L'Oreal the latest foreign investor to bet on continued demand for Korean beauty products in Asian markets such as China, backed by the popularity of Korean pop culture.
The proposed purchase from Nanda's founder is aimed at strengthening L'Oreal's presence in the Chinese make-up market, the newspaper said. UBS is managing the deal, it said.
L'Oreal declined to comment as did a UBS spokesman in Hong Kong. Nanda officials were not available for comment.
Nanda began as an online retailer and has expanded to open physical stores in South Korea, Tokyo and Hong Kong. Its Style Nanda clothing line and 3CE cosmetics brand are particularly popular among Chinese tourists.
The unlisted firm recorded 129 billion won in sales in 2016, versus 109 billion in 2015, a regulatory filing showed.
The deal would follow Unilever NV in September agreeing to buy cosmetics company Carver Korea Co Ltd for 2.27 billion euros ($2.80 billion).
LVMH and Estee Lauder Companies Inc have also invested in South Korean cosmetics firms.
($1 = 1,066.0000 won) ($1 = 0.8121 euros)
(Reporting by Hyunjoo Jin and Ju-min Park; Additional reproting by Sarah White in PARIS; Editing by Kim Coghill and Christopher Cushing)