MILAN — Carla Fendi was all smiles — but no comments — Wednesday as rumors ricocheted around Milan about the future of her family’s Rome-based fashion house.
It is all but confirmed that LVMH’s Bernard Arnault and Prada’s Patrizio Bertelli are joining forces in a bid for Fendi, posing a last-minute threat to Gucci, which has been negotiating with the Fendis for several months.
Sources here and in Paris say the five Fendi sisters and the LVMH/Prada team are in feverish discussions. “Meetings are going on at all hours of the night,” said a highly reliable source.
Karl Lagerfeld, who is in Milan preparing for the Fendi fashion show today, declined to comment on the situation. However, sources close to the talks indicated that Lagerfeld, who has been working for the company for nearly 35 years, was “integral” to the negotiations between LVMH/Prada and Fendi.
Domenico De Sole, the chairman and chief executive officer of Gucci, once again declined to comment. Sources, however, insisted that De Sole and Gucci creative director Tom Ford have not given up their attempt to acquire Fendi. Gucci is said to be bidding $707 million for the company, while LVMH/Prada is said to be offering a higher price.
“This is not over yet,” said one source. “No one has been outbidded or out-maneuvered. The situation is still fluid.”