MILAN — The Benetton family’s holding company Edizione Srl has invested in more fashion assets – and they’re some of the most famous names around.
As per Edizione’s balance sheet, at the end of December, the group channeled 106 million euros, or $117.6 million, into the new investments, spending 72 million euros, or $79.9 million, for 0.21 percent in Hermès, and 34 million euros, or $37.7 million, for a 0.13 percent stake in L Brands.
These investments boosted the family group’s holdings in those two companies and the balance sheet implies they were made in 2015. To be sure, a financial source close to Edizione said the first investment was also made “recently.” He described the purchase of shares in Hermès and L Brands as “purely financial — there are no economic or business implications.”
Hermès and L Brands shares were deemed as “interesting in terms of [stock market] appreciation in the next months,” said the source, who waved away the possibility of Edizione significantly increasing its stake in either company. In 2014 Hermès and LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton signed a truce agreement that ended a four-year exchange of barbs and lawsuits over the latter’s creeping stake in the maker of Birkin bags and silk scarves.
The source said the latest investments should be seen in light of Edizione’s strong liquidity — 1.6 billion euros, or $1.77 billion. This derives from the holding company’s sale last year of its 50.1 percent stake in the airport megaretailer World Duty Free SpA to Switzerland’s Dufry AG for 1.3 billion euros, or $1.4 billion.
Edizione has also sold stakes in Club Méditerranée and Pirelli, with a capital gain of 43.6 million euros, or $48.4 million.
The source said that after an investment in Quaestio Opportunity Fund, Edizione is “eying an industrial investment,” reported Fedrigoni, a paper manufacturer that dates back to 1717 and that is the only producer of paper for euro banknotes authorized by the European Central Bank.
Revenues of Edizione’s textile and apparel division last year totaled 1.6 billion euros, or $1.7 billion, and represented 13.9 percent of the total.
Dollar figures were converted from the euro at average exchange rates for the periods to which they refer.
Edizione’s investments range from highway catering and communications to real estate and agriculture. In the 12 months ended Dec. 31, the holding company reported revenues of 11.44 billion euros, or $12.7 billion, up 5 percent compared with 10.9 billion euros, or $12 billion, the year before, lifted by the highway and airport catering and infrastructures sectors.
As reported in May, Benetton’s revenues totaled 1.53 billion euros, or $1.7 billion, down 1.2 percent compared with the previous year. Last year was the first time Edizione reported figures for its commercial activities alone, which had been separated from its industrial and real estate activities at the end of 2014.
Hermès and L Brands aren’t the first fashion labels to catch the Benetton family’s eye. In April 2012, Benetton Group took a 2 percent stake in Brunello Cucinelli SpA when the Italian luxury company went public. Then-chairman Alessandro Benetton said the stake was purely a “financial investment,” but spoke of it with pride, praising founder Cucinelli. “He is an entrepreneur I hold in high regard. He works with enthusiasm and passion, and his company stands for luxury, the family and knitwear — all values we share,” he explained.
Benetton characterized the share purchase, which totaled 10 million euros, or $13.1 million, as “a sign of dialogue and exchange,” with another company. Benetton sold its Cucinelli stake for a capital gain of 19 million euros, or $25.2 million, in 2014. The financial source also defined that investment as “purely financial.”
Earlier this month, Alessandro Benetton’s private equity group 21 Investimenti took a majority stake in footwear brand Philippe Model for an undisclosed sum to boost its business globally. Designed by Paolo Gambato, the label offers men’s and women’s sneakers manufactured in Italy’s Riviera del Brenta footwear region. The brand generates annual sales of about 100 million euros, or $111 million. Alessandro Benetton took a step back from his role as chairman of the family-owned company in 2014.
With a focus on investing in companies with an enterprise value in the range of 50 million euros to 200 million euros, or $55.4 million to $221.6 million, 21 Investimenti has completed more than 80 investments in Italy, France and Poland since its founding in 1992.
Through its 21 Partners branch, it invested in retailer Pitta Rosso in 2011 and more than doubled its sales in three years, before selling it to retail and consumer goods investor Lion Capital.