MILAN — Swiss independent asset management firm Da Vinci Invest AG has acquired Bruno Magli SpA from Fortelus Capital Management LLP and appointed Manfred Ebensberger as the brand’s new chief executive officer effective immediately.
This story first appeared in the January 10, 2014 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
This is a surprising twist as the British investment fund Fortelus Capital, which acquired Bruno Magli in 2007, said at the end of October it had entered into exclusive negotiations with a consortium of South Korean investors that included E-Land Group and Asian private equity investor CDIB Capital to sell the entirety of the storied Italian footwear brand.
Hendrik Klein, owner of Da Vinci Invest AG, which is based in Zurich and manages its own investment funds and individual accounts of private investors, said on Thursday: “I am very convinced of the investment we did with Bruno Magli, a brand representing the excellence of Made in Italy and of the manufacturing of its products, which are renowned all over the world. I trust in the management of the company that will be fully dedicated to the development of this brand.”
The London-based Fortelus had started a turnaround of Bruno Magli in 2007, tapped Max Kibardin as the brand’s creative director in 2011, and strengthened its distribution network in Europe, the Middle East, the U.S. and Asia, while also developing a strong wholesale organization globally. The company has been expanding its product range from the core footwear business. Today, it markets shoes, bags, small leather goods and a capsule collection of ready-to-wear for men and women. Fortelus took control of the brand from private-equity fund Opera.
Ebensberger, who succeeds Armin Mueller, said the company, which is to remain headquartered in Italy, was “very excited about the opportunity to continue the global relaunch of the brand and to provide consistency in our product and market development. The new ownership will provide the strength and flexibility to accelerate this process. We now look forward to the next phase of growth while preserving the values of distinctive design and workmanship, outstanding quality and strong heritage, which are a fundamental part of the Bruno Magli identity.”