Unilever CEO Paul Polman
Unilever CEO Paul Polman speaks at the United Nations Global Compact Leaders Summit 2010 in New York Reuters

Shares in Unilever were up on the FTSE 100 in afternoon trading following the group's announcement that it would be acquiring Alberto Culver Company for $3.7 billion.

The US-based Alberto Culver reported sales worth $1.6 billion in the full year ended 30 June 2010. The company currently employs around 2,700 people.

Unilever said that the acquisition would make it the world's leading company in hair conditioning, the second largest for shampoo and the third largest in styling.

The deal still needs approval from both regulators and Alberto Culver shareholders.

Paul Polman, CEO of Unilever, said, "We are delighted to be acquiring Alberto Culver. Their people have done an excellent job of building an impressive range of brands such as TRESemmé, VO5, Nexxus, St. Ives and Simple. These will complement Unilever's existing portfolio of iconic brands like Dove, Clear and Sunsilk in hair care and Pond's and Vaseline in skin and will help build on our strong global positions in both the hair care and skin care categories.

"Personal Care is a strategic category for Unilever and growing rapidly. Ten years ago it represented 20% of our turnover; strong organic growth has driven it to now reach over 30%, with strong positions in many of the emerging markets.

"Organic growth remains the cornerstone of our energising ambition to double the size of Unilever whilst reducing our overall environmental impact. Bolt-on acquisitions such as Alberto Culver supplement organic growth and add powerful new brands to our portfolio."

By 15:30 shares in Unilever were up 1.34 per cent on the FTSE 100 to 1,817.00 pence per share.