MILAN — The Benetton family is about to spend more than $360 million to get a little more privacy for their namesake fashion brand.
The family confirmed Wednesday that its Edizione Srl holding company will launch a tender offer and delist Italian clothing and textile manufacturer Benetton Group. Edizione controls 67.08 percent of Benetton, and will offer 4.60 euros, or $6.04 at current exchange, a share for the remaining 32.92 percent of the company for a total sum of over 276.6 million euros, or $363.7 million.
The price is at a 15.6 percent premium compared with the share price of 3.98 euros, or $5.23, before trading in Benetton shares was suspended on the Milan Stock Exchange on Tuesday.
In a separate development, Consob, Italy’s equivalent of the Securities and Exchange Commission, is investigating the unusual rise in Benetton share trading over the past two days and possible insider trading. No further details could be learned.
Edizione attributed the decision to take Benetton private to a rapidly evolving backdrop. Taking into account the market’s volatility, it said a “delisting could supply management with the flexibility required in the medium and long term to implement the necessary actions to face the challenges derived by a changed competitive context.”
Benetton, which went public in 1986, is a small part of Edizione’s overall holdings that span from highway catering and communications to real estate and agriculture.
A Milan-based source said Benetton’s executive deputy chairman Alessandro Benetton, son of co-founder Luciano Benetton, is expected to effectively take the helm of the Italian group in May. The source said a delisting would allow him to freely consider alternatives for the brand, including perhaps a spin-off, as part of a wider restructuring of the family’s businesses.
Other sources believe Benetton will focus on further expanding and developing the brand, which will be easier as a private company.
The Benetton brand was launched in 1965 by Luciano Benetton and his siblings Giuliana, Gilberto and Carlo. Spearheaded by Luciano, the label grew from its core business of sweaters into a fashion phenomenon, investing in retailing and expanding around the world, in regions including Iran and Cuba, and even in war zones, such as Sarajevo. The Benetton name over the years was associated with provocative and often graphic advertising campaigns created by photographer Oliviero Toscani. In November, the company stirred controversy again with its Unhate campaign, portraying montage images of world leaders, including the Pope and President Barack Obama, in close-up kisses.
But as competition from fast-fashion companies like Zara and H&M increased, Benetton’s critics accused the company of lagging behind. Its brightly colored fashions began to look tired against the more runway-influenced designs of its competitors. Slow consumer spending, especially in Europe, and rising costs of raw materials also affected the bottom line of the company, which warned on Tuesday that its 2011 profits would be more than 30 percent below the 2010 level, at an estimated 70 million euros, or $91.8 million.
In June, Alessandro Benetton tapped a new creative director, former Levi’s vice president of global merchandising and design You Nguyen, to help turn a new leaf and revamp the brand.
“Azzedine has been one of the biggest influences in my life. He has always been such a strong, loving, fatherly figure to me. I call him Papa. His designs are indescribably unique, they are pieces of art. He knew how to make the female form look its loveliest. I have so many memories of him; my favorite might be during my first show with him in Paris. He liked me and he wanted to help me get more work. He called all his friends at Kenzo and Comme des Garcons, and asked them to book me. They said, ‘But she can’t walk!’ And he said, ‘but she has such a great ass!' His friendship and support has been the great privilege of my career. I can't imagine life without him. Repose en paix mon Papa.” - @stephanieseymour tells @wwd. #wwdfashion (📷: @steveeichner) #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa, flanked by two of his closest friends, models Stephanie Seymour and Naomi Campbell.
He designed Seymour’s dress for her 1995 wedding to Peter Brant, and treated Campbell (who famously called him Papa), like a daughter. For more on the legendary designer, tap the link in bio. #wwdfashion #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa's “I-did-it-my-way” ethos stood out starkly at a time when brands are experimenting with consumer-facing fashion shows, coed formats and trans-seasonal collections – anything to perk up lackluster sales of ready-to-wear in an age of Insta-everything. “It’s not creation anymore. This becomes a purely industrial approach,” the late designer told WWD in an interview last year. “But anyway, the rhythm of collections is so stupid. It’s unsustainable. There are too many collections.” Read more about the iconic designer’s life and work on wwd.com, link in bio. #wwdfashion #azzedinealaia (📷: @WWD Archive, 1986) #alaia
Sneaker reselling app @goat’s latest exhibit, "The Greatest: New York," tells the story of New York's sneaker culture. To celebrate the exhibit, an intimate crowd gathered on Thursday night at the pop-up gallery space, located at Platform in Culver City, to hear guest speaker and illustrator @esymai talk about her own rise in streetwear and women in the business. "For me I'm just someone who is creative. I like to create things," said Chang. #wwdfashion
Azzedine Alaïa, one of the most iconic couturiers of the modern era whose body-con designs defined Eighties fashion, has died in Paris. The diminutive Tunisian-born designer, known for his structured knitted dresses with fitted waists and impeccably cut, figure-hugging second skin silhouettes was deeply admired by his peers, and counted supermodel Naomi Campbell - his adoptive daughter - among his inner circle, one of a gang of glamazons including Farida Khelfa, Carla Bruni and Stephanie Seymour who became ambassadors of his style. (📷: Alexandre Guirkinger) #wwdblast