By  on September 3, 2010

LONDON — Jimmy Choo isn’t for sale at the moment, but that isn’t preventing investment banks from sniffing around.

Industry sources said banks eager to drum up new business have been approaching the footwear and accessories firm, which this year is expected to post revenues of 150 million pounds, or $231 million, at current exchange.

One source familiar with the company said TowerBrook Capital Partners LP, which purchased Jimmy Choo in 2007 in a deal valuing the firm at 185 million pounds, or $364.5 million at the time, has been contacted by a slew of deal-hungry banks in recent months.

TowerBrook principals narrowed down the list and asked only Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley to prepare pitches with a view to becoming strategic advisers on future options for the company.

“The two banks are working on presentations about their future solutions for Jimmy Choo, but nothing has been set in stone and it’s likely nothing will even be decided until early next year,” the source said. “And if any deal takes place, it won’t be until mid- to end 2011.”

A spokesman for TowerBrook declined to comment Thursday, as did spokespeople for both banks and for Jimmy Choo.

The source added the banks’ interest was not surprising, as the numbers at Jimmy Choo are on the rise.

Revenues have more than doubled since TowerBrook purchased the company from Lion Capital, and Jimmy Choo has launched sunglasses, scarves, small leather goods and a series of capsule footwear and accessories collections over the past three years. Jimmy Choo signed a fragrance licensing agreement with Inter Parfums in October 2009. By the end of this year, the brand will have 111 stores, up from 77 units when TowerBrook made its purchase.

TowerBrook controls 80 percent of Jimmy Choo, while the remaining 20 percent is in the hands of Choo’s founder and chief creative officer Tamara Mellon; board member and former chief executive officer Robert Bensoussan, and management.

Another source said there are a variety of potential options for TowerBrook, including an IPO, an outright sale to a private buyer or simply hanging on to Jimmy Choo for another few years.

A source familiar with TowerBrook said that recent reports in the British press that Jimmy Choo could be valued at 500 million pounds, or $770 million at current exchange, in a possible IPO were “not far off the mark.”

Sources familiar with Choo agree that the banks, rather than TowerBrook, have instigated the recent conversations. When TowerBrook purchased Choo in 2007, Mellon and Bensoussan told WWD the deal was for the long run. Just after the sale, Mellon said that TowerBrook would be taking a longer-term view than most private equity companies and would help Jimmy Choo work toward reaching its goal of $2 billion dollars in valuation.

More recently, in a Q&A with WWD’s sister publication Footwear News, chief executive officer Joshua Schulman said TowerBrook would make an exit at some point. “However, at this time, together with TowerBrook, we remain in a period of deep investment in the growth and development of the business,” he said.

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