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Permira Said in Running for Versace Stake

As reported, the Milan-based firm is looking at selling a 15 to 20 percent holding by the end of the year to finance future growth.

MILAN — Permira is said to be on the short list of investors seeking a minority stake in Versace, according to well-placed sources. The private equity group and owner of brands including Hugo Boss and New Look last week agreed to acquire R. Griggs Group Ltd., parent of the Doc Martens brand. Permira took control of Valentino Fashion Group SpA in 2007, selling it five years later to Mayhoola for Investments, an investment vehicle backed by a private investor group from Qatar.

A Milan-based source said that “over the past few weeks, Permira has entered the negotiations [for the Versace stake] in a significant way, at the expense of the Qatar-based funds.”

Last month, industry sources discussing who might buy the stake in Versace pointed to a short list that included the IQ Made in Italy joint venture, formed by global investment firm Qatar Holding LLC 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. Another investment fund, this one from Qatar, was also named. These entities, said a source, may no longer be looking at Versace. Earlier this month, New York-based fund Blackstone Group emerged as a possible investor, and it is understood it is still in the running.

A source said the Versace family considers taking on an investor as “an opportunity, not a necessity,” and for this reason is seeking a partner that will help expand the firm, but not interfere “in strategic decisions or change how it operates.”

Versace had no comment on Tuesday.

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As reported, the Milan-based firm is looking at selling a 15 to 20 percent holding by the end of the year to finance future growth. Siblings Santo and Donatella Versace, who hold a 30 and 20 percent stake, respectively, and Donatella’s daughter, Allegra Versace Beck, who owns 50 percent, want to maintain control over the company.

Rumors about a possible sale emerged last year when Versace tapped Goldman Sachs and Banca IMI to evaluate growth opportunities.

 

A market source said the company’s management is “pleased with how things are proceeding as nobody has valued the entire Versace company for less than 1 billion euros [or $1.38 billion at current exchange].”

Eventually, an initial public offering may be in the cards for Versace. Last spring, chief executive officer Gian Giacomo Ferraris set a target for a possible IPO: 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.