UPDATE 2-Borletti drops Lacroix bid, Gulf investor in play

Wed Sep 30, 2009 9:57am EDT

Related Topics

* Borletti says will not make firm offer

* Administrator pleased with offer from Ajman investor

* Plans to inject 70 mln eur into Lacroix

* Aims to retain Lacroix staff

(Rewrites with Borletti dropping out)

By Pascale Denis

PARIS, Sept 30 (Reuters) - Italian investment group Borletti said on Wednesday it would not make a firm offer for loss-making French fashion house Christian Lacroix, clearing the way for a bid from a Gulf investor.

Lacroix's administrator had earlier described the offer from Hassan bin Ali al-Nuaimi, a nephew of the ruler of Ajman, part of the United Arab Emirates, as "overall very satisfactory".

"We are close to reaching a solution with the sheikh of Ajman....generally speaking, it's very satisfactory," administrator Regis Valliot told Reuters.

Borletti, led by Italian businessman Maurizio Borletti, said despite studying the offer for three months "the conditions for confirming this takeover were not brought together."

The group added that it hoped to facilitate a quick conclusion of a deal between al-Nuaimi and the fashion house.

Borletti owns the Rinascente and Printemps department stores in Italy and France - which sell fashion items from designers.

Christian Lacroix was once part of French luxury goods group LVMH (LVMH.PA) but now belongs to the Falic family, which owns U.S. retail group Duty Free Americas.

The company behind the designer known for his baroque and embroidered dresses has never made a profit in 22 years of trading.

In 2008, the company made a loss of 10 million euros ($14.57 million) on revenues of 30 million euros, while orders for its 2009 women's ready-to-wear summer collection were down 35 percent.

Valliot said al-Nuaimi's offer envisaged a 70 million euro capital injection into the Christian Lacroix company and keeping all employees. Lacroix himself was involved in the talks.

Al-Nuaimi faces rival proposals from France's Bernard Krief Consulting (BKC) and the Financiere Saint-Germain holding company which owns the Daum and Lalique crystalware firms. ($1=.6863 Euro) (Reporting by Pascale Denis, editing by Marcel Michelson and David Cowell)

FILED UNDER: