By  on March 1, 2011

RIO DE JANEIRO — Laep Investments, a Brazilian private equity fund, has bought Daslu, one of Brazil’s top luxury fashion emporiums, for 65 million reais, or $39 million at current exchange. On Thursday, Daslu’s 200 creditors, a mix of banks and suppliers, agreed to the Laep offer, which still needs court approval.

Laep said its offer to purchase the Daslu brand and its assets includes 21 million reais, or $12.6 million, in cash to capitalize the business and erases 44 million reais, or $26.4 million, in debts that Daslu had with Laep. Laep will also pay Daslu owner Eliana Tranchesi a symbolic 1,000 reais, or $602, for the stock in the company, all of which she owned. Laep must also pay 60 percent of Daslu’s $36 million in debts with other creditors, or 21.6 million reais ($13 million),in 72 monthly installments, a Laep spokesman said.

In 2010, Tranchesi faced mounting debts and little cash flow and was forced to put Daslu into “judicial recovery,” a court procedure that avoids bankruptcy via third-party investments.

Daslu, a 200,000-square-foot fashion emporium in São Paulo with estimated annual sales of about $150 million, began to suffer financially after 250 federal police agents, part of a government sting operation, raided the store in July 2005. Tranchesi was convicted of forming a criminal ring, of tax evasion and falsification of documents, and was sentenced to 94 years in prison. She is out of jail, however, while the sentence is being appealed.

The sting, dubbed “Operation Narcissus,” began when the government started investigating Tranchesi in connection with import-export firms that falsified invoices to show that foreign merchandise, delivered by them to Daslu, cost much less than their real prices. Federal police said the scheme allowed Daslu to pay less than the 20 to 30 percent average fashion import taxes.

Daslu plans to move from its current Villa Daslu space to a single floor of Shopping JK, a nearby luxury mall slated to open by yearend, the Laep spokesman said. Depending on the outcome of her appeal, Tranchesi will run that store as a Daslu franchise, paying Laep royalties of 5 percent of sales. Laep will own and operate the other Daslu store in the Cidade Shopping Jardim luxury mall in São Paulo.

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