PARIS — Speculation is mounting in Europe that Lanvin owner Shaw-Lan Wang is seeking a minority investor. According to industry sources, the Taiwanese publishing magnate, who bought Lanvin from L'Oréal in 2001, has not given anyone a mandate to sell the business, but has been in contact with potential partners at a time when the brand is enjoying strong momentum and rapid sales growth, sources said.A Lanvin spokeswoman declined comment Tuesday. The likelihood of a deal could not be learned, nor the identity of potential partners. The sources said Wang is looking for a partner to provide a capital increase in return for a minority stake to speed growth of the French fashion house, which is underdeveloped versus its competitors in terms of product categories and retail expansion.French financial daily Les Echos said Wang is seeking to sell 35 to 40 percent of Lanvin at a price that would value the business between 100 million and 200 million euros, or $156 million to $312 million at current exchange.It is understood many suitors have kicked the tires at Lanvin in recent years, but most balk at Wang's desire to maintain management control and other conditions. Still, the executive has plenty of high-powered friends, particularly in Asia, who could inject the cash she is seeking."She's been looking for a minority partner since she bought the business," said one source. Last August, Lanvin sold its fragrance and cosmetics business to Inter Parfums SA for 22 million euros, or about $30 million, saying it needed the funds to develop its ready-to-wear and accessories businesses.Partnering with local retailers, Lanvin plans to open about a dozen boutiques during the next year in the Middle East, Europe and India. The company, which entered the black last year, is projecting sales growth in the range of 40 percent for 2008.
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