BERLIN — Eager to focus on its core business, Escada said Wednesday it sold its 90 percent stake in Louis Féraud GmbH to Bavariaring Modeholding AG, a subsidiary of Munich-based private equity firm Bavaria Industriekapital AG.

Bavariaring Modeholding acquired Michael Rover’s remaining 10 percent interest in Féraud last month. The purchase price was not disclosed.

Wolfgang Ley, chief executive officer of Escada, characterized the transaction as “another positive step forward in Escada’s stated strategy of concentrating on, and increasing the value of, its core Escada business. In addition, we are pleased to have found in Bavariaring Modeholding an ideal partner to build Féraud.”

Escada, which bought its initial 45 percent in Féraud in 2001, always characterized its interest in the company as a short-term investment. When Escada increased its Féraud stake to 90 percent in September 2002,

Escada said it still planned to divest itself of Féraud in the short- to mid-term, and that its majority holding would make it easier to do so. Féraud was never consolidated into the Escada Group’s results.

Meanwhile, Bavariaring Modeholding is a new entity, and the Féraud acquisition marks Bavaria Industriekapital’s first venture in the fashion field. The Munich-based investment firm, founded last January, is primarily involved with mid-size companies in engineering and machine building, said Bavaria board member Jan Pyttel.

At Féraud, Pyttel said Bavaria plans to “continue business with existing franchisees and licensees.” He described the company as a “sleeping beauty” under Escada, and vowed that the new owners would “try to be a bit more aggressive in the market.”

Under Escada ownership, Féraud suspended its couture activities and attempted to establish a luxury ready-to-wear business under designers Yvan Mispelaere and Jean-Paul Knott. But last March, Féraud pulled the plug on the upscale line, citing poor sales, and announced plans to concentrate on its bread-and-butter suit business, designed by Matthias Heitzler. “We are very happy with the design as it is done now,” Pyttel said.

Interviewed Wednesday, Féraud managing director François-Xavier de Monts said the house would remain based in Paris and that its development would likely accelerate under new owners.

“We are continuing to work on new projects,” he said. “It’s a positive mood. They want to help us to grow.”Since arriving at the helm of Féraud in March 2002, de Monts has expanded the house’s product range through licensing pacts and increased the brand profile with company-owned and franchised boutiques.

Féraud’s 2003 turnover is projected to reach $48.4 million, converted from 40 million euros at current exchange. Sales of rtw for the year as of Oct. 31 increased 24 percent to $37.5 million, or 31 million euros.

On the retail front, Féraud opened boutiques in Vienna and in Berlin, Düsseldorf, Cologne and Hamburg, Germany, and a flagship on Rue Saint-Honoré in Paris over the past year, as well as two franchised boutiques in Paris and one each in Melbourne and Sydney, Australia, and Beijing, the latter bowing this week.

There are licensing partners for Féraud men’s wear, nightwear, furs, jewelry and leather goods. The first collection of Féraud eyeglasses and sunglasses is currently hitting the shelves, and a Féraud fragrance is slated for a debut next February.

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