By  on September 24, 2013

MILAN — Versace’s talks to secure a minority shareholder are on track and industry sources point to a short list that includes the IQ Made in Italy joint venture, created last year to invest in Italian brands.

The joint venture was formed by Qatar Holding LLC, a global investment firm founded by the Qatar Investment Authority in 2006, and Italy’s Fondo Strategico Italiano, the holding company controlled by Cassa Depositi e Prestiti, or CDP, a financial company controlled by the Italian Ministry of Economy and Finance, which has a 70 percent stake. Other sources said another investment fund from Qatar as well as a separate Chinese investor could be zeroing in on taking a Versace stake. As reported, the Milan-based firm is looking at selling a 15 to 20 percent holding by the end of the year.

IQ Made has no relation to the Mayhoola for Investments fund from Qatar that owns Valentino.

“Nobody has met with [chief executive] Gian Giacomo Ferraris or the Versace family yet, so no decision has been made. Meetings are likely to be held in October to discuss more concretely,” said an industry source, who requested anonymity. Almost a year ago, Versace tapped Goldman Sachs and Banca IMI to evaluate growth opportunities.

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Armando Branchini, deputy chairman of Milan consultancy InterCorporate, said the financial advisers will help anchor “the most interesting partner, the one that is more in line” with the company’s goals. “It’s not only about the amount that will be paid. It is sure that the Versace family is seeking a long-term partner with long-term goals, not a private equity that has a five- or six-year vision,” he said.

Branchini said selling a minority stake will give Versace the resources to enter its next phase of development and open stores globally. “The choice of the means is technical, but the objective is strategic. The Versaces are not going to channel the funds to the shareholders but they will reinvest in the company,” he explained.

Branchini cited Salvatore Ferragamo and Brunello Cucinelli as similar examples of family-owned companies with a minority stake on the market. Last spring, Ferraris set a target for a possible initial public offering: when the company hits sales of 500 million to 600 million euros, or $676 million to $811.2 million at current exchange. Last year, Versace reported group revenues of 408.7 million euros, or $523.1 million at average exchange, up 20 percent compared with 2011.

Siblings Santo and Donatella Versace hold 30 and 20 percent stakes, respectively, and Donatella’s daughter, Allegra Versace Beck, owns 50 percent of the firm. Ferraris has repeatedly said that the Versace family does not wish to relinquish control of the luxury firm.


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