By  on October 22, 2008

MILAN — San Francisco-based private equity fund JH Partners LLC has acquired full control of La Perla Group through the acquisition of the remaining 30 percent stake held by Alberto Masotti’s Nute Partecipazioni.

Masotti, whose family founded the Bologna-based La Perla, had retained his title as chairman and a seat on the board when JH Partners bought 70 percent of the $270 million innerwear company in July 2007. Under the terms of the new deal,Masotti will retire.

“This was another step in the process,” said Jeff Hansen, partner of JH Partners and managing director of La Perla. “Acquiring the final 30 percent is further confirmation of our enthusiasm in La Perla and confidence in its growth prospects. In the last year, we have made great strides to turn the company around, improving the efficiency of our operations and profitability of the business.”

The executive said the fund’s aim is to “achieve growth and profitability,” but underscored the importance of respecting the history of the brand while restoring it “as one of the most recognized Italian luxury brands in the world.”

JH Partners is a private equity firm that specializes in investing in growth businesses, with particular emphasis on luxury brands. The company, which was launched in 1986, manages investments totaling $550 million.

La Perla was founded in 1954 by Ada Masotti, Alberto Masotti’s mother. Alberto Masotti’s daughter, Anna, was design coordinator for the brand while the ready-to-wear line shown on the runway during Milan Fashion Week was designed by Alessandro Dell’Acqua. The designer’s contract expired with the spring 2009 season.

La Perla operates 78 boutiques worldwide and is available at about 3,000 multibrand stores. The company was hit by its money-losing venture Intimo 3, which was set up in 2004 and shuttered two years later, to focus on luxury products.

The group’s portfolio of brands include La Perla, La Perla Black Label, La Perla Prêtà Porter, La Perla Studio, La Perla Glamour, Malizia by La Perla, Joelle by La Perla, AnnaClub by La Perla, Occhi Verdi, Aquasuit, and underwear and beachwear collections for men, Grigioperla and Grigiosport.

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