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Qataris Edge Closer to Printemps Deal

Luxembourg-based fund Disa, which is comprised of a group of Qatari investors, is in talks with The Borletti Group and Deutsche Bank’s RREEF to buy both stakes.

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PARIS — A Qatari takeover of French department store chain Printemps is moving closer.

This story first appeared in the April 5, 2013 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

The Borletti Group plans to sell its 30 percent stake in the retailer to Luxembourg-based investment fund Disa, which in turn is comprised of a group of Qatari investors, according to sources. Disa is currently in talks with Deutsche Bank’s RREEF for the acquisition of its 70 percent stake in the coveted store.

A deal is expected to be completed by this summer.

Contacted by WWD, Printemps and Borletti declined all comment on the subject, citing French labor law regulations prohibiting them to speak on the subject before the deal has officially been presented to the work council.

That meeting is scheduled for today.

Details about the Borletti Group’s implication in the Qatar deal were first disclosed in documents obtained and reported on by the Agence France-Presse and later confirmed by other sources.

As reported in February, RREEF entered into exclusive negotiations with an unidentified group of Qatari investors and the Borletti Group, which was originally thought to want to retain its stake in the department store chain it acquired together with RREEF from French conglomerate Kering (formerly PPR) for $1.33 billion in 2006.

Printemps’ next-door neighbor Galeries Lafayette has been lobbying for “a French solution,” even offering to “join forces” with the Qataris on the buyout.

This now looks unlikely as Borletti has thrown its weight behind the Qatari fund, which wants to take full control of Printemps. Sources said certain principals of Borletti would remain at Printemps for seven years to help oversee the investment. Disa is strictly an investor and not an operator and is understood to want to retain Printemps’ management to continue with its current strategy.

Should Disa succeed in gaining ownership of Printemps, it would be the latest in a string of retail and luxury investments the Gulf state has made in the last few years. The Qatar Investment Authority has a 1.03 percent stake in LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton; recently boosted its holding in Tiffany & Co. to 12.5 percent, and bought real estate in Paris, including a historic building on the Place Vendôme. A fund from Qatar, Mayhoola for Investments, owns Valentino Fashion Group SpA, while other funds from the country own Harrods in London as well as 26 percent of British food retailer J. Sainsbury plc.

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