By and  on June 19, 2013

Is the Camuto Group up for sale?

According to financial and market sources, Vince Camuto has been busy on two fronts: expanding the firm’s business operations while at the same time working with Goldman Sachs, whether for a buyer, investor or exploring financing options.

Jeff Howald, chief financial officer of Camuto Group, said Tuesday, “I can definitively tell you we are not selling the company either in whole or any part of it.” A spokesman for Goldman declined comment.

But financial sources said Goldman was hired a few months ago and there have been pitches made to prospective buyers and/or investors. One source said Camuto Group is a “good fit” for a private equity firm, which could help the company build on the expansion initiatives Vince Camuto has been working on. Another source in the banking world said the plan is for Camuto, who is both chief executive officer and chief creative officer, to stay on at the company for a few more years, and then have his wife, Louise, take over the running of the operation. Louise Camuto is president of marketing for the Camuto Group, as well as creative director of the Vince Camuto brand.

Sources said this isn’t the first time Camuto has eyed a possible sale of part or all of the company — more like the third time. Three years ago, the company was working with a division of The Rothschild Group trying to find a buyer and/or investor, they said. That didn’t pan out, and 18 months ago, feelers were put out again. Late last year, Goldman was in talks with Camuto about the possibility of a sale or investor and supposedly has been pitching different financing options to Camuto.

“Maybe the third time is the charm,” said a banker who works in the space.

One concern among dealmakers is succession planning. A would-be buyer or investor would have to figure out how the company can replicate the energy and expertise that Vince Camuto brings to the business.

Privately held firms such as Camuto Group, especially when on the upswing, are often rumored as being eyed by bankers or private equity players. Banking firms like Goldman regularly pitch firms like Camuto Group about going into the market to see if they can find an investor — that’s how the banks generate business.

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