LONDON — Net-a-porter founder and former executive chairman Natalie Massenet has set up a new company, Imaginary Ventures Ltd., according to paperwork filed at Companies House, the official registry of U.K. businesses.
In the filing, she is named as the sole director and shareholder, and on the form, her occupation is listed as “none.” The date of the filing was Oct. 14.
A spokesman for Massenet confirmed the Companies House facts were correct but declined to provide further details about the nature and timing of the new venture.
Massenet, who also serves as chairman of the British Fashion Council, stepped down from the company she founded in September, shortly before it merged with Yoox Group.
The new entity, Yoox Net-a-porter Group SpA, is quoted on the Milan Stock Exchange. As reported, Massenet has a 12-month noncompete agreement with Compagnie Financière Richemont SA, which owned Net-a-porter, and which is a 50 percent shareholder in Yoox Net-a-porter Group.
When she departed Net in early September, Massenet said her entrepreneurial drive “is as strong today as it always has been, and my passion for innovation will continue to be my greatest guide in business.”
She characterized the merger with Yoox as “the right time for me to move on to explore new ideas and opportunities.” Massenet was to be executive chairman of the new group, with defined responsibilities, but severed all ties when she departed.
Her move was not a shocker: The relationship between Net-a-porter’s longtime minority shareholders, of which she was one, and Richemont had turned a sour. As revealed by WWD on Aug. 6, the minority shareholders disputed Net’s valuation in the context of the merger, and secured a new figure more than 50 percent higher than the one set out in the original deal.
Earlier this year, before the merger with Yoox was revealed, Massenet had tried to stage a buyout, backed by Net’s longtime investor Carmen Busquets. That proposal was rejected by Richemont, which in March sealed the deal with Yoox, valuing Net-a-porter at 950 million pounds, or 1.44 billion euros, or $1.57 billion, at average exchange.
Massenet’s next big project — as chairman of the British Fashion Council — will be the annual British Fashion Awards in London, which will take place later this month. Karl Lagerfeld is set to scoop up the Outstanding Achievement Award during the event on Nov. 23 at the London Coliseum.