Handbag maker Michael Kors Holding Ltd is nearing an agreement to buy Gianni Versace SPA, after the iconic Italian fashion house drew interest from several suitors, people familiar with the plans said.
Michael Kors might announce a deal as early as this week that values Versace at about US$2 billion, said the people, who asked not to be identified as the discussions are private.
The Versace family would continue to have a role in the company under any agreement, the people said, adding that while talks are advanced, no final agreements have been reached.
Blackstone Group LP owns 20 percent of Versace, which sells leopard-print sweatshirts for 2,100 euros (US$2,470.92) and tartan-covered sneakers for 995 euros.
The private equity firm plans to sell its stake in the deal, a person familiar with the situation said.
A representative for Versace declined to comment on the potential transaction. Michael Kors could not be reached immediately. A spokesman for Blackstone had no immediate comment.
London-based Michael Kors last year snapped up shoemaker Jimmy Choo PLC for about ￡896 million (US$1.2 billion), expanding beyond its namesake brand. Now, it is vying with Coach owner Tapestry Inc to build a US-based multibrand fashion empire along the lines of Paris-based conglomerates LVMH SE and Kering SA.
Versace, known for its flamboyant style and Medusa-head logo, in 2016 hired chief executive Jonathan Akeroyd from Alexander McQueen. The company was working toward an initial public offering, but market conditions did not allow it to move ahead.
Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera earlier reported that Versace could be sold this week for about US$2 billion, with groups interested including Michael Kors and Tiffany & Co.
LVMH, PVH Corp and Tapestry have also looked at Versace over the past few recent months, Women’s Wear Daily said on Sunday.
Donatella Versace and her brother Santo Versace have helped run the company since their brother Gianni’s murder in 1997. Donatella serves as creative director, while Santo is chairman.
Versace had revenue of 686 million euros and returned to profit last year, company data showed.
The brand has been at its most prominent in years since a hit show in September last year at the Milan Fashion Week.
In a tribute to Gianni, Donatella Versace brought back the most iconic looks from his collections spanning the 1990s, including silk blouses mixing leopard prints with images of baroque architecture.
She closed the collection by walking the runway herself, arm-in-arm with 1990s models including Carla Bruni and Cindy Crawford.
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