MILAN — Don’t count on buying Valentino shares just yet.
As rumors about a possible public listing of the Italian luxury group continue to swirl, financial sources close to the parties involved told WWD that “the process has not started.” According to one source, “No letter has been sent and no bank has been contacted.”
The source squelched a Reuters report indicating that the Qatari-based Mayhoola for Investments, which owns Valentino, has “invited banks to pitch for the advisory roles on a stock market listing.”
Reuters also speculated that a listing could happen in May — a possibility a source contacted by WWD waved away as “science fiction, given the lengthy procedure involved in such a step. No timing has been set and all these rumors are an element of disruption,” the source said.
Financial players in Milan indicated they have heard nothing about a possible IPO for Valentino. Earlier this week, when Pambianco unveiled its annual ranking of the Italian fashion companies that were “most listable,” Valentino didn’t even make the top five, which were Giorgio Armani, Dolce & Gabbana, Ermenegildo Zegna, Kartell and Flos.
Speculation about the future of Valentino has intensified since September, when chief executive officer Stefano Sassi said the fashion house, one of the hottest in the industry, is expecting to hit sales of one billion euros, or $1.1 billion at current exchange, by the end of the year. Sassi told WWD at the time that this was “a symbolic turning point for us that will lead us to a new ulterior phase.”
Asked at the time whether an IPO or the acquisition of other fashion brands could be possible in the future, Sassi declined to elaborate and pointed out that Valentino does not need a cash injection and that Mayhoola for Investments’ “interest in developing their presence in luxury” is a fact, depending on the opportunities.
In October, responding to a Bloomberg report speculating that Valentino was exploring an IPO, the company said, “The shareholders and management of Valentino confirm their total commitment to support and continue to grow the global presence of the brand.”
The statement at that time continued that Mayhoola, the Qatar-based fund, “reconfirms their intention stated at the acquisition of Valentino in 2012 that the ambition and the plan is to build a successful platform for a luxury brands group. For that purpose, the growth plan of Valentino will continue to be the prime focus of the shareholders and the management. At the same time all means to proper establish and empower the financial structure of such luxury group is explored with our financial advisers including a public company structure without any decision at this stage.”
The Rothschild Group is Mayhoola’s adviser and declined to comment Thursday on the speculation, as did Valentino.
In September, Sassi for the first time revealed the group’s revenues in the first half of the year, revealing that sales jumped 59 percent to 478 million euros, or $530.6 million. Last year, sales totaled 664 million euros, or $ 883.1 million.
Sassi has been spearheading the expansion of the brand’s retail network, while also growing its wholesale accounts, opening up to new markets. Creative directors Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccioli have rejuvenated the brand, growing all product categories.