IS LUXLOOK UP FOR SALE?

Byline: Valerie Seckler

NEW YORK — Low-profile, high-end fashion e-tailer Luxlook.com could be acquisition fodder.
“There are lots of companies we’ve been discussing possible financing deals with,” said Sara Manley, Luxlook’s director of European advertising, when reached at the dot-com’s London offices Thursday and asked about a report that the company has agreed to be acquired by luxury-goods conglomerate Compagnie Financiere Richemont AG.
Manley declined to comment on the Richemont rumor, however, or on whether Luxlook is in active pursuit of a purchaser.
“Being an Internet company, we are always discussing potential partnerships and business propositions,” she noted. “It is just normal for Internet companies to talk to a lot of different parties about possible deals all the time.”
Richemont officials were unavailable for comment Thursday. Richemont has already been burned on one dot-com deal, the $5 million it invested in December 1999 for 20 percent of former fine jewelry e-tailer Adornis.com, which flamed out last October. At the time, executives from Richemont claimed they had no interest in selling their own products on the Web site but had made the acquisition simply to learn more about e-commerce.
The rumor linking Luxlook with Richemont surfaced in a story in the Italian newspaper Il Giornale, which stated Richemont’s chief executive officer Johann Rupert signed a letter of intent on Sunday to acquire Luxlook, the luxury accessories portal launched last September by Italian financier Francesco M. Clarelli, with a roster of roughly a dozen labels, including Bulgari, Dolce & Gabbana, Etro, Missoni, Moschino, Valentino, Versace and Vivienne Westwood.
Thus far, Luxlook has been funded privately with approximately $60 million, with a 10 percent stake held by Holding di Partecipazioni Industriali; 2 percent controlled by Bulgari, and the majority of the business owned by the New York-based firm’s management. But with HdP rumored to be eyeing a sale of Valentino — or perhaps its entire GFT Net fashion unit — to Gucci, some Web watchers have been wondering just how long HdP will keep its funds in Luxlook. An HdP spokeswoman declined comment on the matter Thursday.