By and  on December 1, 1994

Milan -- Raising its offer for GFT SpA to the equivalent of $375 million (600 billion lire), Gemina SpA, a Fiat investment group, has beaten back a last-minute bid by CVC Capital Partners to capture the designer-label manufacturer.

According to sources here, Gemina finally clinched the acquisition late Wednesday after a flurry of meetings, faxes and voting by GFT's creditor banks over the past two days.

The new bid raises the value of the deal only by about $7 million (12 billion lire), but is structured so that the creditor banks will be completely bought out. Gemina's initial offer called for the banks to retain a 40 percent stake in GFT.

The deal caps almost two years of tumultuous negotiations to rescue the financially troubled GFT, which produces such top names as Valentino, Giorgio Armani, Claude Montana, Emanuel Ungaro and Calvin Klein.

Reached in New York Wednesday, Valentino chief executive Giancarlo Giammetti said: "I'm very happy that a great Italian company will stay Italian. I'm sure Gemina will bring a new energy to GFT and strong support to the present management. I believe the Gemina Group will maintain the actual management, which is very good.

"GFT needs a new investment to become again very competitive in the market," he went on. "They need the support in deliveries. Gemina can give this kind of investment.

"The funny thing is about two years ago, GFT was a beautiful woman that no one wanted, " Giammetti said. "Now, they have too many suitors... and finally a marriage."

A Gemina spokeswoman here, however, said she couldn't confirm reports of the marriage. "I don't know anything officially," she said.

But the news drew a strong reaction from CVC, an investment group associated with banking giant Citicorp.

CVC, arguing it won approval from 51 percent of the creditor banks earlier this week and had simply asked for a grace period until its investment committee could approve the transaction next month, is threatening legal action over the deal.

"At this point, our legal advisers are saying they are evaluating their options," a CVC spokesman said Wednesday.

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