Private equity firm Emerisque is the front-runner to buy Sergio Rossi from Kering, and a deal could close as early as this week, according to industry sources.

As reported, Kering has been shopping around the footwear company, and the price tag is said to be 40 to 50 million euros, or $44 million to $55 million, which includes the brand’s factory outside Florence.

Last month, WWD reported the top contenders for the Italian footwear brand alongside Emerisque were private equity firm Lion Capital, former owner of Jimmy Choo, and Investindustrial, the European strategic investment house founded by Italian financier Andrea C. Bonomi.

On Feb. 13, WWD first reported that Kering was quietly preparing a sale process for the Italian footwear company, which was founded by Sergio Rossi in the Fifties. It was later acquired by Gucci Group, whose brands were later folded into Kering, during an acquisitions spree in 1999.

Sergio Rossi failed to live up to its potential within Kering’s portfolio, with Rossi himself leaving, and the brand seeing a revolving door of managers and designers.

Kering is in a blackout period before its second-quarter results, due to be released later today, and Emerisque did not respond to a request for comment.

A sale of the loss-making Rossi is clearly imminent: Earlier on Monday, Kering revealed the appointment of Grita Loebsack as chief executive officer of its luxury couture and leather goods’ emerging brands. She will have purview over Alexander McQueen, Balenciaga, Brioni, Christopher Kane, Stella McCartney and Thomas Maier. Kering made no mention of Sergio Rossi in the portfolio.

Emerisque owns Italy’s Industries Sportswear Company SpA, parent of Marina Yachting and Henry Cotton’s. It also owns the Italian men’s sportswear label MCS, formerly known as Marlboro Classics.

In the past, Emerisque has owned companies such as Lee Cooper, and the U.S.-based men’s wear companies Hickey-Freeman, Hart Schaffner Marx, Bobby Jones and Monarchy.

Emerisque was founded in 2004 and operates from the U.K., U.S. and Hong Kong for the acquisition of, or investment in, medium-sized, established Western consumer brands and vertical retailers.

Potential acquisitions have critical mass in their core markets and potential for rapid scale in the newer world economies and distribution channels, according to the company’s Web site, which says Emerisque targets growth markets such as Greater China and Russia, India, the Middle East and North Africa.

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