NEW YORK — As far as apparel mergers and acquisitions are concerned, 2003 will go down as the busiest in a decade.
Last year, the total disclosed value of deals here and abroad rose 57.8 percent to $3.63 billion while the number of marriages skyrocketed 88.6 percent to 132 unions.
According to data reaching back over the past decade compiled by Factset Mergerstat, a leading provider of U.S. and international M&A information to the investment banking and corporate markets, 2003 was the busiest year for M&A activity on the apparel front. The runner-up was 1999 when the total disclosed dollar amount reached $6.74 billion, but the total number of deals was lower at just 117 (see chart). The dollar activities are based on deals in which the M&A price was publicly disclosed.
It’s important to note that while 2003 was better than 2002, it’s hard to tell whether it was superior to 1999 because, of the 132 deals done last year, only 54 reported dollar amounts. That leaves 78 deals as “confidential.”
In 1999, the privacy factor left 55 deals with undisclosed purchase prices. So, even though there was a higher number of deals last year that remained “private,” it’s still possible that the undisclosed deals in 1999 added up to a significantly higher dollar amount. The 62 disclosed deals in 1999 represented a dollar volume that is 85.5 percent higher than the 54 “fully disclosed” deals of 2003.
Still, 2003 was a remarkable year in regard to M&A activity. The deal of the year was VF Corp.’s purchase of Nautica Enterprises Inc. in July for $571.4 million. The top seller last year was Holding Di Partecipazioni Industrial, or HDP, which garnered a whopping $701 million for its coffers through the $351 million sale of Fila Sport SpA to a group led by Fila Korea Ltd., Fila USA Inc. and Cerberus Partners, and the $350 million sale of Fila Holding SpA to Cerberus Partners. Both HDP deals took place in March.
Other notable marriages include Oxford Industries Inc.’s April purchase of Viewpoint International Inc., owner of the Tommy Bahama brand, for $325 million; Nike Inc.’s July acquisition of Converse Inc. for $305 million, and Jones Apparel Group Inc.’s August rescue of Kasper A.S.L. from bankruptcy court proceedings for $221 million.Kellwood Co. spent $140 million in February to buy Briggs New York Corp., while Liz Claiborne was busy acquiring Enyce Holding for $114 million in November and Juicy Couture Inc. for $39 million in March. Perry Ellis International scooped up Salant Corp. in February for $84.9 million.
Other deals involving lesser sums include LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton’s buy of Antichi Pellettieri SpA from Mariella Burani Fashion Group SpA in September for $27.45 million, and Hong Kong firm Yue Yuen Industrial Holdings Ltd.’s acquisition of the sleepwear division of bankrupt Kleinerts Inc. in April for $3.8 million.
Among the private deals for undisclosed sums were Munich-based Bavaria Industriekapital AG Egana Goldpfeil’s buy of Louis Feraud in December, Donnkenny Inc.’s purchase of Robyn Meredith Inc. in September and Paris-based Maison Balmain SA’s addition of Thierry Mugler’s Haute Couture operations from fellow French firm Clarins in June. LVMH was also busy last year. The company purchased an additional stake in Fendi, in May, boosting its ownership to 84.1 percent. Meanwhile, Tarrant Apparel Group bought American Rag CIE.
Asian firms were also busy last year, with acquiring firms based in China, India, Singapore and Thailand. With few exceptions, the majority shared a common denominator: Most of the deals did not disclose amounts paid. The Asian firms also were more likely to be privately held and not subject to regulatory disclosure requirements.
Of special interest is French firm Pinault Printemps Redoute, or PPR, which is slowly gaining control of Gucci Group NV the old-fashioned way.
According to Mergerstat data, PPR spent a minimum of $322.8 million for an equity stake in Gucci in January and February. WWD’s data indicates that PPR, through subsequent purchases throughout the year in both the New York and Amsterdam Stock Exchanges, now holds about a 67.6 percent stake in Gucci. Plans were for PPR to increase its stake to 70 percent at the end of 2003, and under the terms of the deal struck between PPR and Gucci, the French company will gain control of Gucci’s supervisory board this year.
As reported, the two individuals who turned an almost bankrupt fashion house into a $2.54 billion luxury firm — president and chief executive Domenico De Sole and creative director Tom Ford — will be leaving Gucci when their contracts expire on April 30. One of the ongoing conflicts involved their reluctance to hand over control of Gucci to PPR, a changeover from a public firm to that of a wholly owned subsidiary.
“Azzedine has been one of the biggest influences in my life. He has always been such a strong, loving, fatherly figure to me. I call him Papa. His designs are indescribably unique, they are pieces of art. He knew how to make the female form look its loveliest. I have so many memories of him; my favorite might be during my first show with him in Paris. He liked me and he wanted to help me get more work. He called all his friends at Kenzo and Comme des Garcons, and asked them to book me. They said, ‘But she can’t walk!’ And he said, ‘but she has such a great ass!' His friendship and support has been the great privilege of my career. I can't imagine life without him. Repose en paix mon Papa.” - @stephanieseymour tells @wwd. #wwdfashion (📷: @steveeichner) #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa, flanked by two of his closest friends, models Stephanie Seymour and Naomi Campbell.
He designed Seymour’s dress for her 1995 wedding to Peter Brant, and treated Campbell (who famously called him Papa), like a daughter. For more on the legendary designer, tap the link in bio. #wwdfashion #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa's “I-did-it-my-way” ethos stood out starkly at a time when brands are experimenting with consumer-facing fashion shows, coed formats and trans-seasonal collections – anything to perk up lackluster sales of ready-to-wear in an age of Insta-everything. “It’s not creation anymore. This becomes a purely industrial approach,” the late designer told WWD in an interview last year. “But anyway, the rhythm of collections is so stupid. It’s unsustainable. There are too many collections.” Read more about the iconic designer’s life and work on wwd.com, link in bio. #wwdfashion #azzedinealaia (📷: @WWD Archive, 1986) #alaia
Sneaker reselling app @goat’s latest exhibit, "The Greatest: New York," tells the story of New York's sneaker culture. To celebrate the exhibit, an intimate crowd gathered on Thursday night at the pop-up gallery space, located at Platform in Culver City, to hear guest speaker and illustrator @esymai talk about her own rise in streetwear and women in the business. "For me I'm just someone who is creative. I like to create things," said Chang. #wwdfashion
Azzedine Alaïa, one of the most iconic couturiers of the modern era whose body-con designs defined Eighties fashion, has died in Paris. The diminutive Tunisian-born designer, known for his structured knitted dresses with fitted waists and impeccably cut, figure-hugging second skin silhouettes was deeply admired by his peers, and counted supermodel Naomi Campbell - his adoptive daughter - among his inner circle, one of a gang of glamazons including Farida Khelfa, Carla Bruni and Stephanie Seymour who became ambassadors of his style. (📷: Alexandre Guirkinger) #wwdblast