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1) LVMH BUYS BULGARI
LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton in March agreed to acquire 50.4 percent of Italian jeweler Bulgari from the firm’s largest shareholder, the Bulgari family, in a cash-and-share swap, and launched a bid for the remaining shares for a total value of more than $6 billion. The deal doubled the size of LVMH’s watch and jewelry division, and made the Bulgari family the second-largest family shareholders in LVMH — with a 3.3 percent stake — after chairman and chief executive officer Bernard Arnault himself.
2) TIMBERLAND RAISES VF’S PERFORMANCE PROFILE
After flirting for more than 30 years, VF Corp. finally in June inked a $2.3 billion cash deal to acquire Timberland Co., transforming VF into a $10 billion giant.
During the first full year after the deal, half of VF’s business will be in the outdoor and action sports arena, which could rise to 60 percent of the business by 2015. That will help VF trade more like a performance apparel firm. Timberland’s president and ceo, Jeffrey Swartz, whose family controlled 73.5 percent of the voting power of Timberland’s stock, stepped down from his posts after completion of the deal in September.
3) JACK WOLFSKIN HAS A NEW PRIVATE EQUITY OWNER
Private equity firm The Blackstone Group in July forked over $995 million to acquire German outdoor gear and apparel chain Jack Wolfskin. Blackstone acquired the firm from Barclays Private Equity and Quadriga Capital. New York-based Blackstone is the retail chain’s third private equity owner in 10 years. The retailer has more than 400 franchised stores in Europe and Asia, of which half are in Germany. Barclays and Quadriga acquired the chain from Bain Capital in 2005.
4) JIMMY CHOO FLIPS, AGAIN
Labelux Group, a division of the private, family-owned Joh A. Benckiser SE, owner of perfume maker Coty Inc., became the latest owner of Jimmy Choo in May. Labelux, whose other brands include Bally and Derek Lam, beat competitors including TPG Capital and The Jones Group Inc. in a deal sources say valued Choo at $889.4 million. Reinhard Mieck, ceo of Labelux, said, “We see ourselves as long-term strategic investors,” adding that the brand has lots of unfulfilled potential in Asia. Chief creative officer Tamara Mellon and ceo Joshua Schulman revealed plans in November to depart; Mellon has already exited while Schulman will leave early this year. The sale to Labelux comes 10 years after private equity owners Equinox first purchased Choo, valuing the company at $32.4 million.
5) NO IPO FOR MONCLER — HELLO EURAZEO INSTEAD
Moncler SpA in June pulled the plug on its planned initial public offering on the Milan Stock Exchange, electing instead to sell a 45 percent stake to Paris-based investment company Eurazeo for $611.5 million. Remo Ruffini, Moncler’s chairman and creative director, and The Carlyle Group continue to hold minority stakes in Moncler. One week before the deal was inked, Moncler got the green light to proceed with the IPO, and a $1.87 billion valuation was put on the company. Selling the stake was deemed a better way to grow the brand, and an IPO down the road could still be a possibility as an exit strategy. Ruffini in October took on the additional role of ceo following Alberto Lavia’s exit from the firm.
6) PPR GOES MASS WITH VOLCOM
PPR in May revealed a friendly $607.5 million takeover bid for Californian action sports brand Volcom Inc. It’s a move by luxury mogul François-Henri Pinault to build a mass market division around Puma that could eventually eclipse its luxury holdings, such as Gucci. Richard Woolcott, Volcom’s chairman and chief executive officer, remains on the Volcom board and is running the firm as part of PPR’s sport and lifestyle group.
7) JONES COUNTS ON GEIGER
Private equity firm Graphite Capital sold British footwear brand and retailer Kurt Geiger in June to The Jones Group Inc. for $350 million in cash, inclusive of debt. The acquisition is a win-win situation. Its new parent gives Geiger entrée to the U.S., while the transaction gives Jones a platform into Europe and bolsters its footwear operations, which already include Nine West. Geiger ceo Neil Clifford pockets a small fortune and remains at the helm of the company.
8) POLA’S NEW BABY
Japan’s Pola Orbis Holdings purchased Australian skin care firm Jurlique International Pty. Ltd. for $300 million. The transaction is expected to close in early 2012. The purchase price includes the repayment of some of Jurlique’s debts. The marriage is expected to utilize Pola’s research and development capabilities with Jurlique’s natural ingredients product lineup.
9) LIZ CLAIBORNE BRAND SOLD
The Liz Claiborne brand was sold to J.C. Penney Co. Inc. for $288 million in October, a move that now has former parent Liz Claiborne Inc. pondering what its new corporate name should be. The sale was the latest in a series of moves by the parent firm to allow it to focus on three key businesses: Kate Spade, Juicy Couture and Lucky Brand. J.C. Penney had been expected to buy the brand after becoming the exclusive licensee in August 2010.
10) ALLSAINTS DAY
Beleaguered AllSaints was rescued by Lion Capital and Goode Partners in May. Both private equity firms injected $173.3 million into AllSaints at the time of the sale. Lion has a 65 percent stake, Goode an 11 percent one, and top management a combined 24 percent. AllSaints ran into trouble after a rapid-fire retail rollout and the nationalization of its Icelandic investor Kaupthing bank. AllSaints would have fallen into administration, the U.K. equivalent of Chapter 11, had it not found an investor in time. The brand’s ceo, Stephen Craig, abruptly left the company in late September after clashing with chairman Kevin Stanford.
11) PARLUX IS PERFUMANIA’S $170 MILLION BABY
Perfumania Holdings Inc. revealed in December that it will acquire Parlux Fragrances Inc. for $170 million. Parlux is already one of the discount beauty retailer’s biggest suppliers. The two had been in merger discussions since August, and the boards of both firms have approved the transaction, which is expected to close in the first half of 2012. Parlux, meanwhile, has until mid-January to solicit other interested parties, while Perfumania has the right to match a superior offer, according to the terms of the merger agreement.
12) BELSTAFF’S NEW SWISS TIES
Outerwear specialist Belstaff was acquired by Labelux Group in a $161 million cash-and-debt deal one month after the Swiss luxury goods firm acquired Jimmy Choo. Belstaff’s former owner, the Malenotti family-owned Clothing Company, once considered an IPO, but that idea became a nonstarter in 2008 when the global recession hit and consumer spending dwindled. Labelux has help from two high-profile American executives: Harry Slatkin and Tommy Hilfiger. The two are also investors in the English outerwear label. Slatkin is now Belstaff’s ceo, and Hilfiger serves as business consultant and a member of Belstaff’s advisory team and board.
(U.S. dollar amounts were converted at the exchange rate current at the time the deals were announced.)
Among the other big deals of the year whose terms were not made public are: Fung Brands’ purchase of Robert Clergerie in April and Delvaux in September; Li & Fung’s disclosure to buy Fishman & Tobin and Crimzon Rose, both in August, and the deal by Elie Tahari and Arthur S. Levine to acquire Catherine Malandrino in October.