By  on September 24, 2007

MILAN — Roberto Cavalli is still mulling the prospect of floating his company or selling a stake in it to another investor, but he doesn't feel pressured to do it anytime soon.

"I will take so much time deciding, I'll wear you journalists out," the designer laughed during a phone interview on Sunday, the eve of today's show. "The price is not what interests me...I'd like to find a partner who could do all the things I've done over the last 10 years and develop the business just as much but do it in three years."

There's been talk for more than a year that Cavalli's business is on the block. This weekend the subject flared up once more. Italian daily Il Sole 24 Ore published an interview with the designer in which Cavalli was quoted as saying that he "would be pleased" to receive an offer from Compagnie Financière Richemont. But Sunday evening, Cavalli stressed that he hasn't gone so far as to choose an ideal partner to grow the brand he runs with his wife and designer, Eva Cavalli.

"I think [Il Sole 24 Ore] put too much emphasis on this particular phrase," Cavalli said, explaining that Richemont interests him as a potential partner more than LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton or PPR. "I would be scared to sell to one of those men [LVMH's Bernard Arnault or PPR's François-Henri Pinault]. They already have so many brands, I don't see how mine could benefit."

A Richemont spokesman declined comment Sunday.

Cavalli, who is understood to value his company at least 2 billion euros, or $2.82 billion, said he is similarly unconvinced by the private equity firms that are aggressively courting his company. Carlyle Group, Apax Partners and Advent International are just three of the firms thought to be eying Cavalli.

"I don't want a fund that will invest and that's it, but someone who will really help me [to grow my business]. I don't need the money," he said. "It's not the price tag that is going to convince me but whether or not the deal will allow me into the big leagues of fashion."Cavalli said he's going to review his strategic options this fall, once he has recuperated from fashion week. But he doesn't expect to make any decisions for at least "a year or a year and a half."

Cavalli stressed the importance of surrounding himself with a skilled management team to develop his family-run business. He said he may opt to take his company public but he isn't convinced it's the right path for his company. Cavalli would join a long list of fashion IPO candidates such as Salvatore Ferragamo, Prada and Miss Sixty.

This year he tapped his daughter, Cristiana Cavalli, as chief executive of the company.

"I'm not a great businessman unfortunately. I'm a designer and want to continue to be one," he said.

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