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The logo of Coty Inc is displayed at the New York Stock Exchange on Nov. 18, 2019.Brendan McDermid/Reuters

Coty Inc said on Monday Peter Harf, chairman of both the company and its top investor JAB Holdings, would return as chief executive officer after nearly two decades to help the cosmetics maker revive its business amid the coronavirus crisis.

Shares of the company, which also made official a deal with investment firm KKR to sell a 60 per cent stake in its professional and retail hair business, rose more than 20 per cent.

Harf, who also sits on the boards of JDE Peet’s BV and Keurig Dr Pepper’s, served as the CEO of the New York-based cosmetics maker from 1990 to 2001 before Bernd Beetz followed it up with a decade-long stint at the helm.

Coty, which has been grappling with slowing sales and mounting debt, has also struggled to integrate the brands it acquired from Procter & Gamble in 2016 for about $12 billion, forcing it to rethink its strategy.

“We changed leadership quite a bit and also the culture of Coty suffered ... And frankly speaking, today, Coty is in a difficult situation,” Harf said on a call with analysts.

Harf’s appointment marks the company’s fourth such change in less than four years and solidifies JAB’s hold on Coty, with the German conglomerate owning about 61 per cent of the beauty company.

Former Jimmy Choo boss Pierre Denis - who was set to take the mantle of CEO in May after the departure of Pierre Laubies - will not take up an executive position, but will serve as a senior adviser to the board, Coty said.

Harf also said allegations made by Forbes magazine that Kylie Jenner had overplayed the value of her cosmetics brand, months before his company bought a majority stake in it, came as a “mystery” to him.

Jenner has said Forbes’ allegations were based on “a number of inaccurate statements and unproven assumptions.”

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