Philipp Plein

MILAN — Philipp Plein is still in the running to buy the Roberto Cavalli brand — but he is not alone. According to well-placed sources, the Florence-based brand has received three offers.

“The offers are very different and very specific, and all interesting,” one source said. “Plein may seem more compatible in a certain sense, but it has not been selected. The competition is still on. None of the three is in pole position,” underscored the source.

An international fund based in the U.S. is also eyeing Cavalli, according to the sources, while the third bidder is harder to identify. Renzo Rosso’s OTB group, parent of brands such as Diesel and Maison Margiela, was said to have also been interested and “made contact,” but the sources said the group may have not actually submitted an offer. The speculation may have stemmed from the fact that OTB’s Staff International is Just Cavalli’s licensee.

It is understood that, given the different nature of the bidders, the business plans and the strategies to develop Cavalli vary significantly. “[Owner] Clessidra is evaluating which offer makes more sense for the future of the brand,” said one source, adding that no exclusive agreement has been signed with any of the bidders and that the deal could be completed by the first 10 days in March.

Italian private equity fund Clessidra SGR on Wednesday had no comment on the speculation regarding Cavalli.

As reported last month, designer Philipp Plein is rumored to be especially keen to take control of the brand and eyeing to overhaul it, leaving his own mark on the label. In addition to his own namesake brand, which marks 20 years in business in 2019, the designer controls Plein Sport and Billionaire.

Rothschild, the adviser tapped by Cavalli’s owner, also had no comment.

Clessidra took control of Cavalli in 2015, but has been looking to exit the fashion business, according to sources. In May 2016, Italmobiliare SpA, the publicly listed investment group owned by the Pesenti family took control of Clessidra for roughly 20 million euros. Italmobiliare holds and manages a diversified portfolio of investments and equity interests worth more than 2 billion euros.

Chief executive officer Gian Giacomo Ferraris has spearheaded the turnaround of Cavalli since his arrival in May 2016. The brand is designed by Paul Surridge.

In 2017, Cavalli revenues were down 1.8 percent to 152.4 million euros, compared with 155.2 million euros in 2016.

When Clessidra bought Cavalli, financial details were not disclosed, but market sources estimated that the brand was purchased for between 380 million euros and 400 million euros. The deal was completed by a new company called Varenne, controlled by Clessidra, but including L-GAM and Chow Tai Fook Enterprises Ltd.

Founder and designer Roberto Cavalli himself retains a 10 percent stake in the firm, but he has eased out of the fashion industry.

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