Roberto Cavalli RTW Fall 2019

MILAN — And then there was one.

Sources say that Dubai-based property developer Damac has emerged as the investor most likely to buy the Roberto Cavalli brand. The last word now goes to the administrator, who is expected to communicate his decision next week.

“Damac’s plan was the most complete, the one preferred by the owner [Clessidra Sgr],” said one market source. “OTB also presented a strong plan, but not as comprehensive as Damac’s.”

Damac was especially interested in Cavalli because its strategic investment arm Dico International is working on a five-star hotel tower in Dubai that is expected to comprise 220 rooms and to be completed in 2023. When the deal was revealed, Cavalli’s chief executive officer Gian Giacomo Ferraris said this was the first of at least five hotels, called Aykon, to open in 10 years. Damac, which is one of the top 10 companies publicly listed on the Dubai Financial Market with a market capitalization of $4 billion, is funding the project with an investment of $500 million. Damac is also building Just Cavalli villas in Dubai.

As reported, last Friday Cavalli received a total of five offers. Three offers were binding for 100 percent of the company. Another binding offer was made to purchase unspecified company assets, while a fifth party submitted a nonbinding expression of interest.

At the end of March, the Roberto Cavalli SpA board revealed that it had decided to file a restructuring plan with the Court of Milan, which would allow it to continue to operate while holding discussions with creditors under the so-called process of “composition with creditors.” In the filing, Roberto Cavalli SpA requested 120 days to prepare the restructuring plan and to allow the company to continue to evaluate potential new expressions of interest to buy the brand. That was followed by Cavalli’s American subsidiary Art Fashion Corp. filing for Chapter 7, ceasing all operations. Creative director Paul Surridge exited the fashion house in March.

The investment would also have made sense for OTB, as the group’s manufacturing arm Staff International is Just Cavalli’s licensee. Renzo Rosso’s OTB is parent of brands such as Diesel, Marni and Maison Margiela.

The New York-based Marquee Brands, whose portfolio includes Ben Sherman, Bruno Magli, Body Glove, BCBG Max Azria, BCBGeneration and the Dakine athletic brand, is another interested party. As reported, Rothschild, the adviser tapped to find a buyer, negotiated with Marquee Brands together with English fund OpCapita LLP and Interparfums Inc., which showed interest in acquiring the brand’s perfume label for 44 million euros, but this meant reaching an agreement with licensee Coty Geneva SA. Sources pointed to Marquee Brands alone eyeing the brand this time.

According to market sources, Bluestar Alliance, which has investments in Tahari, Bebe and Catherine Malandrino, continued to look at Cavalli and presented an offer.

Philipp Plein Holding AG, partnering with Luxembourg-based Blue Skye Financial Partners Sarl, had also been an interested party.