Mon, Jul 09, 2007 - Page 12 News List

Prada says it isn't for sale, not holding talks with buyers

`COMPLETELY INCORRECT' A British newspaper reported the Milan-based fashion house was in talks with a UK-based investor but a Prada spokesman denied the story


Prada SpA, the Italian maker of Car Shoe and Azzedine Alaia fashions, said it isn't for sale and hasn't met with UK millionaire Richard Caring or private-equity funds.

London's Sunday Times reported yesterday that Prada was in talks with Caring to sell the company, citing unidentified people in London's financial district. The Times also said Prada had received interest from at least two private equity companies.

"The information in the piece is completely incorrect," said Prada spokesman Tomaso Galli in a telephone interview yesterday. "The company is not for sale and there have been no meetings with anyone regarding a sale."

Galli said the Milan-based firm was still evaluating selling shares on the stock market starting from next year. He said its value is higher than the 2 billion euros (US$2.73 billion) cited by the Times.

"The company is worth between 3 [billion] and 3.5 billion euros," Galli said.

Prada, which also owns English shoemaker Church & Co, cut costs and sold unprofitable Jil Sander and Helmut Lang fashion houses to concentrate on developing its brands, including Miu Miu.

The company and competing luxury-goods makers are benefiting as wealth increases in developed markets and economies expand in China, Russia and India.

Prada has scrapped plans for an initial public offering three times in the current decade. Prada raised 100 million euros last December by selling a 5 percent stake to Banca Intesa SpA. It also bought back the 55 percent stake it didn't own in Church's from Equinox the same month.

Separately, Valentino Fashion Group SpA, the biggest luxury company being bought by a private-equity firm, will increase sales at its Valentino brand at least 10 percent this year, helped by royalties from fragrance and watch licenses.

Licensing revenue is growing about 15 percent, chief executive officer Stefano Sassi said at the inauguration of the Valentino museum at the Ara Pacis monument in Rome on Friday, celebrating the designer's 45 years in the fashion business.

"Licenses are a fundamental way to express the value of the brand and an important source of profitability," said Sassi, 47, who was appointed in January.

"The couture, which represents the quintessential identity of the brand, is also important, even though it's more of a niche market, he said.

Permira Advisers LLP offered to buy Valentino Fashion last month in a transaction valuing the company at 2.6 billion euros.

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