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MILAN — La Perla had no lack of suitors at the Court of Bologna this morning, when the floundering Italian luxury lingerie brand was the subject of an animated hearing and auction. In the end it was SMS Finance, the financial services provider owned by telecommunications entrepreneur Silvio Scaglia, which made the winning bid.
This story first appeared in the June 5, 2013 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
It offered 69 million euros, or $90.3 million at current exchange, to acquire Bologna, Italy-based La Perla.
“We are absolutely enthusiastic, not only for the potential we see in the La Perla brand, but also in the company itself, which is extraordinary even if it has suffered a lot over the years,” said Scaglia, adding: “We are convinced that Made in Italy production is key to success and we believe in the importance of keeping the Bologna factory going.”
Less than a week ago, it seemed certain that Gruppo Calzedonia would add La Perla to its portfolio. The Verona, Italy-based hosiery, intimates and swimwear giant founded by Sandro Veronesi had been meeting with Bologna unions to discuss restructuring plans to save the jobs of hundreds of La Perla employees on government-funded leave.
In an unexpected swirl of activity, however, SMS Finance and Israeli intimates manufacturer Delta Galil joined the fray, sending local media into a frenzy.
Following today’s hearing, Scaglia is expected to meet with Bologna unions to establish La Perla’s restructuring strategy. The money offered in the SMS Finance bid will go toward paying off La Perla’s debts and renting the company prior to the official acquisition.