with contributions from Wynne, Alex
 on January 22, 2012

PARIS — Lanvin recently realized a capital increase of 17.5 million euros, or $23.2 million at current exchange, as entrepreneur Ralph Bartel increased his stake in the fast-growing fashion house to 25 percent from 12.5 percent.

The transaction was detailed in documents filed with the commercial court here last week and obtained by WWD. The funds were deposited at the private bank Neuflize OBC. The capital increase resulted in the issuance of 150,191 new shares.

Bartel isn’t named in the documents, but sources said he exercised his option to purchase an additional 12.5 percent stake in Lanvin.

The first part of the two-pronged transaction took place in 2009, as Lanvin’s majority owner, Taiwanese media magnate Shaw-Lan Wang completed her mission of finding a partner willing to help her take the fashion company to the next level.

It is understood the minority investments in Lanvin’s parent, Arpège SAS, were made through a family trust associated with the Bartel family, also majority owner of New York-based accessories firm Devi Kroell.

Bartel, founder of Travelzoo, remains a director at that Internet-based media firm, and is a director of Jeanne Lanvin SA.

The Bartel holding wished to remain anonymous when Lanvin disclosed the initial investment. At the time, company officials would only say the investor was a European family holding with a long-term investment horizon and no exit strategy.

Lanvin officials declined to comment on the latest transaction.

In 2009, Lanvin said it would use the proceeds from its capital increase to expand its retail network and deepen its commercial footprint, leveraging the design prowess and buzz of its creative director, Alber Elbaz, who is believed to hold an equity stake in Lanvin via a Wang-controlled vehicle.

Sources said Lanvin throws off enough cash to fund its expansion, having recently opened a number of boutiques in Russia, Italy, France, the United States and China. The firm has identified Asia as among its chief growth opportunities.

However, the additional millions in its war chest could be employed for future strategic moves. According to a Paris source, Lanvin ultimately may wish to take direct control of its business in Japan, currently under the purview of its longtime distribution partner Itochu Corp.

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