Exclusive: 'Leopard King' Cavalli nears 450 million euro sale to Permira - sources

Thu Apr 17, 2014 11:20am EDT
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By Pamela Barbaglia and Sophie Sassard

LONDON (Reuters) - Italian designer Roberto Cavalli is in advanced talks to sell a majority stake in his eponymous fashion house to London-based buyout firm Permira in a sale worth about 450 million euros ($621 million), four sources close to the deal told Reuters.

A sale would mark the end of more than 40 years on the haute couture scene for Cavalli, known as "The Leopard King" for his animal prints colorfully cast in leather, silk and velvet.

And it would demonstrate once again the appeal of Italian family-owned fashion firms for investors after rival label Versace sold a 20 percent stake to U.S. private equity firm Blackstone (BX.N: Quote) for 210 million euros in February.

An agreement between Permira and Cavalli could be reached in the coming weeks after the 73-year-old designer, rarely seen without his large sunglasses and cigar, dropped his reluctance to ceding a controlling stake, the sources said.

One of the sources said Cavalli would retain between 20 and 40 percent of the company.

Several lenders are currently pitching to be part of a financing consortium that would include a pool of up to four Italian and international banks, the sources said.

Societe Generale (SOGN.PA: Quote) is already working with Permira on the transaction, said one of the sources. BNP Paribas (BNPP.PA: Quote) and UniCredit (CRDI.MI: Quote) are also expected to be involved on the financing, given their historic ties with the Florence, Tuscany-based maison, said the sources, who asked not to be named because the talks are private.

BNP Paribas declined to comment. UniCredit and Societe Generale were not immediately available to comment.   Continued...

Italian designer Roberto Cavalli acknowledges the audience at the end of his Spring/Summer 2014 collection during Milan Fashion Week September 21, 2013. REUTERS/Max Rossi