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Versace Eyes Private Stake Sale

The company is considering an initial public offering in three to five years.

MILAN — Gianni Versace SpA is eyeing an initial public offering in three to five years, following a private sale of a minority stake, said Gian Giacomo Ferraris, the company’s chief executive officer, on Thursday from Macau.

After tapping Goldman Sachs and Banca IMI almost a year ago, Versace had been evaluating growth opportunities and Ferraris, who was in the Chinese city with Donatella Versace to present the Palazzo Versace project, revealed that the company’s owners are now gearing toward a sale.

Siblings Santo and Donatella Versace hold 30 and 20 percent stakes, respectively, and Donatella’s daughter, Allegra Versace Beck, owns 50 percent of the firm. Ferraris has repeatedly said that the Versace family does not wish to relinquish control of the luxury firm. Last spring, Ferraris set a target for a possible initial public offering: when the company hits sales of 500 million to 600 million euros, or $659 million to $790 million at current exchange.

In 2012, group revenues climbed 20 percent to 408.7 million euros, or $523.1 million at average exchange.

First unveiled last month, the Macau Palazzo Versace will open in 2017, located in a 20-level tower that covers more than 367,200 square feet. This is the first Palazzo Versace in Asia and the first five-star, designer-branded hotel in the former Portuguese colony. Construction is expected to kick off within the next few months. Sociedade de Jogos de Macau, SA, or SJM, will develop and operate the hotel, while Versace will provide design and artistic direction for the interiors and furnishings for guest rooms and common areas. SJM, which is controlled by SJM Holdings Ltd., is publicly listed in Hong Kong.

As part of SJM’s integrated casino resort in Cotai, Macau, Palazzo Versace will comprise up to 270 rooms and suites, one gourmet restaurant, a luxury spa, indoor and outdoor swimming pools, retail space and other exclusive facilities. Versace will also provide a full range of products exclusively for this Palazzo.

“Today we kick off a strategic partnership with an industry leader, and a very promising project,” said Ferraris. “Palazzo Versace will enrich Macau with a unique property aiming to provide an exclusive experience and become a destination within a destination. At the same time, Palazzo Versace Macau will be a prestigious and powerful window in a priority market for us. I believe that this project will be extremely positive for the Versace brand.”

Ambrose So, SJM chairman, said this project “continues a long tradition of the East and the West meeting here in Macau,” noting that the palazzo will “embody Versace’s commitment to excellence in design and workmanship, and [it] will promise an unforgettable hospitality experience to visitors and further enhance Macau’s position as a world center of tourism and leisure.”

The Macau Palazzo reflects Versace’s continued growth in Asia. Last year, the region posted 38 percent growth, and, excluding Japan, accounted for 40 percent of sales.

A Palazzo Versace is also expected to open in Dubai in the second half of 2014.

In 2000, a Palazzo Versace opened on Australia’s exclusive Gold Coast tourist strip in Queensland with Australian property developer Sunland Group Ltd. — a six-star hotel with 205 rooms and 72 condominiums decorated in typical Versace style, with neoclassical furniture, fountains, statues and marble floors.

Versace is one of several Italian fashion firms, from Giorgio Armani and Missoni to Bulgari, Salvatore Ferragamo and Moschino, that has entered into luxury lodging.