MILAN — Is man-of-the-moment Patrizio Bertelli in the middle of the latest round of Fendi rumors?
Sources say the aggressively acquisitive Prada chief may have already persuaded one of the five Fendi sisters to sell him her share in the company. The latest report comes amid yet another round of feverish press speculation that one of Bertelli’s chief rivals — Gucci’s Domenico De Sole — is also making progress in wooing the reluctant Fendi sisters.
However, sources on Friday stressed that Gucci, while interested, is a long way off from any actual Fendi deal. While numerous suitors have been linked to Fendi — LVMH, Texas Pacific Group, and Bulgari, in addition to Prada and Gucci — the Fendi sisters are clearly divided in their desire to sell.
And the house’s designer, Karl Lagerfeld, has yet to weigh in. Lagerfeld declined to comment on the latest round of rumors, but it is believed that a takeover would free him of his Fendi contract.
Offers for Fendi have reportedly exceeded $700 million for the entire company.
For months, rumors about a sale have been swirling around Fendi, although the firm is not officially on the block. The five sisters each hold a 20 percent stake in the company through a complex network of holdings in various subsidiaries. All five have to agree to sell their stakes for the deal to be successful.
Both Prada and Gucci are on aggressive acquisition drives, with plenty of money to spend.
Prada, as reported, has in the past few months acquired majority stakes in Helmut Lang and Jil Sander, and last Thursday it made a $172 million offer for Church & Co., the British shoe company.
Gucci, after joining forces with the French retailing group Pinault-Printemps-Redoute (PPR) earlier this year, announced it wanted to build its own major luxury-goods group. Gucci/PPR’s first target so far has been Sanofi Beaute, which is currently owned by Francois Pinault’s holding company Artemis. Sources say due diligence will likely be finished early next month.