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Dubai’s Paris Group Buys Gianfranco Ferré

Sources estimated firm spent between 10 and 20 million euros, or $13.5 million and $27.1 million.

MILAN — Dubai-based Paris Group has secured the Gianfranco Ferré brand as the label’s state-appointed administrators have formally accepted the group’s binding offer.

This story first appeared in the February 9, 2011 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

This confirms a WWD report last month. The purchase price was not disclosed, but sources estimated Paris Group spent between 10 and 20 million euros, or $13.5 million and $27.1 million.

Paris Group was founded more than 20 years ago by Abdulkader Sankari and is a fashion distributor and franchisee in the Middle East, where it operates more than 250 stores in the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia for brands ranging from Versace and Cerruti to Canali and Ferré itself.

In December, Ferré’s sale procedure was unexpectedly stalled when Samsung pulled out of a deal with Prodos Capital Management LLC and Salmar Shipping Ltd.

“We are very pleased with this outcome. Paris Group is a structured company, financially very solid and plans a big relaunch of the brand, with significant international expansion projects and stores planned in cities from Moscow to Beijing and in the Middle East,” said Roberto Spada, one of the commissioners.

Administrator Andrea Ciccoli was also very satisfied with the deal. “This is one of the soundest groups in the Middle East, one that knows the luxury world extremely well as an official partner of several top luxury brands, collaborating with the best Italian companies,” said Ciccoli. “In addition, we see a personal drive and an entrepreneurial breadth behind the projects.”

Ciccoli also highlighted the fact that the sale of the three firms under the bankrupt IT Holding group — Ferré, knitwear label Malo and manufacturing company Ittierre SpA — helped keep 900 employed and infused between 40 and 50 million euros, or $54.3 to $67.8 million, of equity in the companies.

“We were not interested in simply selling the labels,” he said.

Innerwear and beachwear firm Albisetti SpA took control of Ittierre, which produces young brands for Costume National, John Galliano and Ermanno Scervino, while a Tuscan luxury retailer bought Malo.

It is understood Paris Group will develop Ferré’s signature brand in-house at the ITC manufacturing plant near Bologna, while Ferré Milano and GFF will be licensed to Ittierre. Spada noted that Paris Group, which has production companies in China and India, was especially keen on keeping ITC.

“Italians go abroad to produce, and foreigners come here for Italy’s top production facilities,” he remarked.

IT Holding has been in government-backed bankruptcy protection since February 2009.

“This is not a short-term deal,” said Ciccoli.

Paris Group had already looked at the Ferré dossier last year, but technical issues prevented it from meeting the auction’s deadline last summer. As the Prodos-Samsung deal fell through, the group took the opportunity to submit a new offer.

“There are no deferments of payment, no pledges with Paris Group, but a solid and powerful retail and production group,” said a source, in a comparison with American merchant bank Prodos. “The commissioners are even more pleased with this solution.” Another Milan-based source said the administrators are talking to lawyers to evaluate how to proceed against Prodos. “The sale process was binding and the fund lost its deposit and guarantees. The commissioners may even seek more damages,” said the source.

The designer Gianfranco Ferré died in June 2007. The Fondazione Gianfranco Ferré was established in February 2008 to honor and preserve his work.