Blackstone buys into Versace
The Blackstone Group LP private equity firm has taken a 20 percent stake in Versace with a 210 million euro (US$287 million) capital injection, the fashion house said yesterday in Milan. Versace fashion house CEO Gian Giacomo Ferraris said by telephone that the investment would help Versace prepare for a long-planned public listing in the next three to five years by ensuring “discipline.” The cash will be used to open more stores of the main Versace brand, which accounts for 60 percent of revenues, while expanding the other Versace brands like Versus and accessories, and to increase online commerce.
Sahara chief surrenders
The head of India’s giant Sahara group surrendered to police in Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh, yesterday, two days after the Supreme Court ordered his arrest over delays in repaying billions in US dollars illegally collected from small investors. On Tuesday, the court ordered Subrata Roy’s arrest over delays in repaying money collected from rural savers through bond sales. The Sahara conglomerate extends from a stake in a Formula 1 racing team to a sprawling Indian luxury township and once included the iconic New York Plaza Hotel.
Loeb seeks Sotheby’s seats
Activist investor Daniel Loeb on Thursday nominated himself and two allies to the board of Sotheby’s, saying that the auction house’s current board lacks the skills and inclination to undertake needed changes. Loeb, CEO of hedge fund Third Point — Sotheby’s biggest shareholder with a 9.5 percent stake — praised some of Sotheby’s recent shareholder-friendly actions, but said the board must go further in cutting costs and repositioning the auction house. Sotheby’s hit back, saying it was “disappointed” at Loeb’s proxy campaign, which followed a far tougher letter from Loeb criticizing the firm’s leadership in October.
S Korea output rises
South Korea’s industrial output expanded for the fourth straight month in January, despite reduced working days caused by the Lunar New Year holiday, government data showed yesterday. Total production in the mining, manufacturing, gas and electricity industries in Asia’s fourth-largest economy inched up 0.1 percent from December, Statistics Korea said. However, it was down 3.8 percent from a year ago.
Bayer upbeat on outlook
German chemicals and pharmaceuticals giant Bayer yesterday said it was optimistic about business this year after meeting key targets for last year. Last year, Bayer’s net profit rose 32.7 percent to 3.19 billion euros (US$4.4 billion). Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization rose 1.5 percent to 8.4 billion euros. Revenues increased 1 percent to a record 40.16 billion euros.
Hutchison profit climbs
Hong Kong billionaire Li Ka-shing’s (李嘉誠) Hutchison Whampoa Ltd (和記黃埔) conglomerate yesterday said that its net profit for last year rose 20 percent from a year ago, despite challenging global markets. The blue-chip group said net profit was HK$31.11 billion (US$4.01 billion) for the year ending Dec. 31, compared with HK$25.89 billion in 2012. Profits were fueled by growth in areas including its port, hotel and property divisions, it said in a statement.