By  on May 14, 2007

(Updated 1:38 P.M.) MILAN- The stock exchange here suspended trading in Valentino Fashion Group SpA shares for the entire session Monday pending an announcement of an unspecified nature.

As WWD reported today, Valentino FG chairman Antonio Favrin said Friday that the group had received offers from various "financial companies". Speculation about the possible sale of Valentino FG has been circulating for months. Reports have named private equity firms Carlyle and Permira as potential buyers.

A Valentino FG spokeswomen said the company has no plans to issue a statement and referred journalists to the company's individual shareholders.

A spokeswoman for Canova Partecipazioni Srl, Favrin's own investment company, said that the company may be issuing a statement this evening or Tuesday. Canova owns almost 20 percent of the company.

"We are negotiating," the Canova spokeswoman said, declining to elaborate further on the nature of the talks or the players involved.

A Borsa Italiana spokesman said that shares were also suspended for the afterhours trade session.

Valentino Fashion Group could be the next private equity target.

Antonio Favrin, chairman of the owner of Hugo Boss and Valentino, admitted at a shareholders' meeting Friday that the group had received offers from "financial companies interested in the luxury sector, which had contacted some of the main shareholders of the company."

Favrin stressed, though, that the offers "have not yet taken shape as any formal proposal."

This is the first time Favrin discussed the issue without dismissing the idea of a sale. For months, there has been speculation about a possible sale of VFG — heightened by the fact that designer Valentino Garavani, who turned 75 on Friday, is preparing his 45th-anniversary couture show in Rome in July.

The show has stirred talk Valentino might use the occasion to step down. Sources have said VFG had been searching for a replacement for the designer for at least two years, but had been unable to find anyone suitable to take up the reins of the house and its myriad collections.

A Milan source said Favrin and his own investment company, Canova Partecipazioni Srl, which controls 18.78 percent of Valentino Fashion Group, could be the most interested in attracting a potential buyer. There are two theories as to why. One is that Favrin and Canova would use the occasion to cash out of VFG and make a profit.

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