MILAN — Missoni is going through some growing pains.

Despite repeated denials, rumors about a possible sale of the fashion house refuse to go away. On the contrary, they have recently perked up after circulating for at least a year. Once again, creative director Angela Missoni told WWD that the privately held company is not for sale. “We are gratified by the attention, but we don’t want to sell,” she said firmly, noting that perhaps “there are not that many brands that are interesting out there.”

Market sources contend that months ago the family put the business on the block for a whopping asking price of 1 billion euros, or $1.13 billion at current exchange, though a more realistic valuation would be about a quarter of that. A sale of the company might also be complicated, considering the intricate family web and number of shareholders. To wit: One source said that 66.6 percent of the company is for sale. This stake belongs to Angela’s brother, Luca, and to the children of their brother Vittorio.

“Angela does not want to sell,” said the source, adding that Valentino parent Mayhoola for Investments has in the past expressed interest in the brand, as has former Fiat chairman and current Alitalia president Luca di Montezemolo and his son Matteo, through their Charme Investments vehicle.

Mayhoola was said to be eyeing Missoni last year. One source argued the Qatari fund is “the most interested party” in a brand that is “excellent and that has growth potential.” The M Missoni license was part of Mayhoola’s acquisition of Valentino Fashion Group in 2012. Mayhoola may have come back with an offer now that the family is not keeping a united front.

Sources said former Valentino chairman Matteo Marzotto conducted due diligence on the company last summer. Marzotto had no comment last week.

The recent departure of executives and a shift in top-level responsibilities may also have contributed to growing speculation the brand is for sale, at the tail end of an annus horribilis 2013. Vittorio Missoni’s plane disappeared into the Venezuelan waters off the Los Roques archipelago in January 2013, which was followed by the death of the family’s patriarch and company cofounder Ottavio, known as “Tai,” in May 2013. It is understood Vittorio was not only the business-minded sibling but also functioned as a mediator within the family.

Angela Missoni said the company’s board is currently “evaluating” the selection of a new chief executive officer, following the exit of Alberto Piantoni, whose contract expired in December and was not renewed. In addition, Diane Levbarg, the longtime executive vice president of Missoni USA, left around the end of December to focus more on her consulting firm, which she originally opened in 1982. “They’ve had three chief financial officers over the past seven years,” said one source. “Things are unraveling. Angela [Missoni] and assorted family members have taken on the role of ceo and cfo.”

Angela Missoni holds the title of president of the board, which comprises her brother Luca; their mother, Rosita, who is in charge of the brand’s home collection and is also honorary president of the company; Vittorio’s son Giacomo, and finance director Patrizia Fiorito.

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