NEW YORK, Jan. 28 /PRNewswire/ -- Now in its third year, L'Oreal's e-Strat challenge, has become one of the most popular on-campus events -- anticipated by college and university students around the world. The "Challenge" as it is called by those familiar with this online game, began play on January 13th, 2003, following almost two months of registration that saw over 17,000 students from 80 countries and campuses as far away as Kyrgystan and as close as New York, sign up to compete. (Logo: http://www.newscom.com/cgi-bin/prnh/20021025/ESTRATLOGO ) This year the U.S. was among the top countries leading the way in total number of teams registered and ranked number one in number of teams chosen to compete. Eighty-seven U.S. teams are currently engaged in the competition from such prestigious business and undergraduate colleges and universities as: -- Kellogg 12 teams -- Stern 7 Teams -- Haas 4 Teams -- Chicago 4 Teams -- Harvard 2 Teams -- Wharton 2 Teams -- University of Pennsylvania 2 Teams -- Northwestern 2 Teams -- Carnegie Mellon 1 Team L'Oreal's e-Strat is an annual business competition that allows students to put the theories they are learning in the classroom into actual application, through a realistic online simulation that places them in control of a global cosmetic business where managerial skills, the ability to make critical decisions, strategic thinking and leadership potential are all put to the test, during six rounds of competition over the course of eight weeks. Each team, comprised of three students, does not compete directly against each other, but rather against four virtual cosmetic companies vying for market share. For the first time this year, winning teams from each of the 5 geographic zones will be invited to L'Oreal's Paris headquarters, to present their strategy and business plan before a distinguished panel of judges who will then select the overall winners. Three teams will emerge as the international winners and another 9 teams will receive special recognition in the final round of competition, which takes place on April 22nd. For updates on team standings and other information on the competition log on to www.e-strat.loreal.com About L'Oreal L'Oreal is the world's number one cosmetics company, present in 140 countries with a turnover in 2001 of euro 13.7 billion. The company recorded its 17th consecutive year of double-digit growth in 2001, increasing its profits by 19.6%. Half Year Results for 2002 saw the group achieve a 29% increase in profits. L'Oreal's brand portfolio includes: L'Oreal Paris, Maybelline, Garnier, Soft Sheen Carson, Matrix, Redken, L'Oreal Professionnel, Vichy, La Roche-Posay, Lancome, Helena Rubinstein, Biotherm, Kiehl's, Shu Uemura and Armani, Cacharel and Ralph Lauren fragrances. L'Oreal is the only cosmetics group that is present in every distribution channel: mass market, hair salons, department stores, pharmacy and mail order. With 47 factories worldwide, 88 distribution centers and 14,500 employees in manufacturing sites and over 3.4 billion units produced, the industrial organization of L'Oreal is a major contributor to the group's growth. Ninety-four percent of products sold by L'Oreal are made in the group's factories by group employees.