MORE ON CALVIN: Whatever Bernard can do, so can François. At least, that’s the thinking behind the latest rumor to pop up regarding Calvin Klein Inc., which has it that French tycoon François Pinault came to Manhattan last week looking to negotiate for the designer’s business. The thinking is that since Bernard Arnault’s LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton bought Donna Karan, Pinault wants to own an American designer brand, too. But no one was talking officially on Friday, and there also are reasons why such a scenario might not make sense: Pinault-Printemps-Redoute last month sold the majority of its financial services arms for some $3 billion to pay down its $6 billion debt and alleviate investor worries over its commitment in 2004 to pay $4.8 billion for the 47 percent of Gucci it does not already own. Plus, there’s already a list of potential suitors for bits and pieces — or all — of the Calvin Klein brands, including Kellwood Co., Phillips-Van Heusen, VF Corp. and Lawrence Stroll and Silas Chou.

However, PPR has also indicated it would slowly reconfigure its profile by reducing its business-to-business activities in favor of higher-margin retail and luxury businesses. PPR first moved in that direction when in August it also sold the mail-order subsidiary of Guilbert, its office supplies distributor, to Staples Inc. for $808 million. PPR has also hinted it could sell Rexel, the electrical equipment retailer.

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