Versace may get new investor by Christmas-Reuters

(Reuters) – A new investor is likely to buy a minority stake in Italian fashion house Versace by Christmas, Chairman and core shareholder Santo Versace said on Thursday.

The luxury group plans to sell a stake of around 20 percent ahead of a possible market listing in three to five years.

“(The arrival of a new investor) is likely by Christmas but if it turns out to be January 15 nothing changes. A first step has been taken, now the others must follow,” Santo Versace said.

Versace is looking to sell a stake to raise cash to invest in new shops to take advantage of a growing appetite for luxury clothes and accessories in emerging markets.
Santo Versace said a bourse listing had been considered in the past and could be an option again in the future.

“At present the best thing is to boost growth at a company which is valued above one billion euros now and could be worth three times that in three years’ time,” he said.
“There is no hurry. The door remains very much open.”

Sources close to the deal have told Reuters that potential buyers for the minority stake include Italy’s state-controlled fund FSI, private equity firms Permira, Ardian, KKR & Co (KKR.N: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz), CCMP Capital, Blackstone (BX.N: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz), and Bahrain-based Investcorp.

FSI and Ardian declined to comment on Thursday. Blackstone, CCMP Capital, KKR and Investcorp and Permira could not be immediately reached for comment.
Private equity fund Clessidra is very interested in buying the stake, its chief executive said earlier this month.

The fashion house which features popstar Lady Gaga in its advertising campaigns is entirely controlled by the family of late founder Gianni Versace, who was killed in 1997.

Gianni’s brother Santo has a 30 percent stake, his sister Donatella holds 20 percent and Donatella’s daughter Allegra is the biggest shareholder with the remaining 50 percent.

Goldman Sachs GSGSC.UL and Banca IMI (ISP.MI: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) are advising Versace on the deal.