By and  on December 22, 2010

HONG KONG — Chinese men’s wear giant Trinity Ltd. has agreedto acquire Paris-based fashion house Cerruti in a cash deal capped at 53million euros, or $69.6 million at current exchange.

Trinity,which is part of the Li & Fung group, holds the license todistribute Cerruti 1881 men’s wear in Greater China. It will buy 100percent of the business and various Cerruti trademarks from a subsidiaryof U.S. private equity firm MatlinPatterson Global OpportunitiesPartners II L.P. and some of its affiliates.

“The acquisitionof Cerruti fits in with our strategy to own intellectual rights or takeon long-term licenses in high-end to luxury men’s wear brands with astrong heritage and a proven track record,” Trinity’s group managingdirector, Wong Yat Ming, said Wednesday.

Trinity executivesanticipate the Cerruti deal will close within three months. The men’scompany operates more than 100 Cerruti 1881 shops in over 50 cities inGreater China.

“We will now capitalize on the value we havecreated for the brand over the past years by further expanding theCerruti business in Asia, as well as introducing new product categoriesby managing nonapparel product lines such as leather goods, perfumes andwatches,” Wong said.

The disclosure of the deal confirmed aWWD report in October.

Florent Perrichon, Cerruti’s chiefexecutive officer, told WWD that the acquisition “makes a lot of sense.Cerruti went through a good transition over the past four years thanksto MatlinPatterson — from out of bankruptcy and into a more stablephase.”

Perrichon said the company’s sales are back in growthmode.

“Now it is perfect timing for us to join a group where weare a strategic investment for the long term,” he said.

Perrichonsaid there will be opportunity for “the whole Cerruti family” to expandnot only in Asia but possibly globally.

In January, during themen’s wear shows in Paris, Trinity executives will look at operationsand consider restructuring needs, although Cerruti headquarters and itsflagship store will remain in Paris.

Cerruti was founded inItaly in 1881 and became noted for its men’s wear under the aegis ofNino Cerruti. He sold the fashion house to an Italian industrial groupin 2000 and there was a revolving door of owners and designers.MaitlinPatterson bought the business in 2006. Cerruti is hoping to make acomeback under the creative direction of Richard Nicoll for women’swear. The brand recently named Zoran Bosanac artistic director ofCerruti, with overall responsibility for visual communications andimage.

The men’s wear segment of the Cerruti business, which hasbeen licensed to Trinity since the Eighties, has seen significant gainsin Greater China, and Wong expects it will grow further with theaddition of product lines and stores.

Trinity operates a totalof 381 stores specializing in high- to luxury-end men’s wear in 53locales in Greater China, such as Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan.

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