There's no putting any lipstick on this suspicious $8 billion takeover bid.
That's how much PTG Capital Partners, which describes itself as a London-based private equity firm, purports to have offered to buy ailing cosmetic company Avon Products (AVP). But the offer appears to be fake.
In a statement, Avon said it hasn't received a bid or any other communication from PTG, adding that it hasn't been able confirm the firm really exists.
In a regulatory filing on Thursday, PTG says it approached Avon's board of directors with a proposal to acquire it for $18.75 a share. That would represent a staggering 181 percent premium to the value of Avon's closing share price on Wednesday of $6.67.
Shares in Avon, which has a market capitalization of $2.6 billion, rose more than 20 percent following news of the bid and trading in the stock was repeatedly halted. Trading resumed in the afternoon, with shares up 6.1 percent, or 41 cents, to $7.08.
In its filing, PTG says it is a global private equity investment firm focused on leveraged buyouts, directing inquiries to a "Steve Kohe," who is listed as the company's general counsel. But calls to the firm went directly to voice mail, with the box too full to leave a message.
A firm PTG listed as its law firm in Fort Worth, Texas, said in a recorded message that it was unable to answer any calls.
PTG also twice refers to itself in the filing as "TPG." A buyout firm, TPG Capital, that previously did work with Avon told Bloomberg News that it has no connection to PTG.
Avon's growth has fallen sharply in recent years, sliding 18 percent, to $1.8 billion, in its most recent quarter, helping spark speculation the company could be up for sale.