TEXAS PACIFIC SAID TO NAME TEAM FOR BALLY
Byline: Samantha Conti
MILAN — Texas Pacific Group, which last month announced plans to buy Bally, reportedly has already named a new management team for the Swiss shoe and fashion company that includes former executives from Ferragamo and LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton.
Industry sources close to TPG said Gerald Mazzalovo, the former chief executive officer of LVMH-owned Loewe, would be named ceo of Bally, and Scott Fellows, who until last year was worldwide director of marketing at Ferragamo, will be the creative director. Bernd Wahler, currently ceo of Bally, will be group managing director, the sources said.
They added that TPG, a U.S.-based leveraged buyout fund, is expected to make an announcement today. Abel Halpern, Texas Pacific’s European managing director, declined to comment on the reports. Last month Halpern said in a statement that TPG planned to put “luster” back into the Bally brand which posted an operating loss of $19.5 million and sales of $211.5 million in the first six months of 1999, figures translated from the Swiss franc at current exchange.
“We wish to preserve the Swiss legacy of Bally and have pledged to invest substantial funds in Bally’s future,” Halpern said last month. “We are shareholders that roll up our sleeves and get involved in the details of the business. We will be developing and executing strategy.” The purchase of Bally is expected to be completed in October.
The sources added that TPG wants to push Bally into the the luxury goods market and position it alongside Ferragamo, the high-end rtw and leather accessories company. They said it’s no coincidence that both Fellows and Mazzalovo, who was ceo of Ferragamo North America before joining Loewe, have experience at the Florence-based fashion house.
TPG, which is believed to have paid more than $200 million for Bally, is known for resuscitating consumer brand names and is on an aggressive campaign to make a name for itself in the luxury goods sector.
The company is said to be conducting due diligence on the Rome-based fashion house Fendi, although sources say TPG’s enthusiasm for that acquisition is cooling. The five Fendi sisters are said to be divided — and undecided — about the future of their company, and TPG executives are reported to be losing patience.
In 1996, TPG rescued the Italian motorcycle company Ducati, which it successfully floated on the stock market this year. Earlier this month, TPG announced plans to buy the Italian scooter manufacturer Piaggio. The company has a controlling equity investment in J. Crew, among other companies.