GUCCI SAID EYEING ACQUISITIONS

PARIS — It looks like cash-rich Gucci Group is gearing up for another spending spree. Sources said Tuesday the Italian group is winding up two key acquisitions: the Paris-based house of Nicolas Ghesquiere and the Italian ready-to-wear and accessories firm Bottega Veneta.
As reported in these columns Jan. 19, acquisition-minded Gucci has had its eye on Ghesquiere and the house of Balenciaga, which the 29-year-old designer has rejuvenated with lean, cutting-edge designs. It now appears that Gucci has decided to secure the designer himself, without Balenciaga, and back a signature collection.
Balenciaga is owned by Group Jacques Bogart, controlled by the French entrepreneur Jacques Konckier and his family. During the course of discussions, Ghesquiere was said to be more eager to ally himself with the Italian group than Konckier, sources said.
Gucci and Balenciaga had no comment, and Ghesquiere could not be reached.
Meanwhile, sources also indicated a transaction is imminent for Bottega, which was founded in 1966 and earned fame for its shoes and signature woven-leather bags. To boost its fashion image, the house launched a ready-to-wear collection in 1998.
The company, owned by the Moltedo family, has a network of some 60 boutiques worldwide, including two in New York, on Madison Avenue and in SoHo.

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