Armani says will never sell empire: report

MILAN Sat Jan 16, 2010 7:10am EST

MILAN (Reuters Life!) - Giorgio Armani will never sell his fashion empire and has no plans to hand over any of his workload, the 75-year old designer was quoted as saying on Saturday as his autumn/winter fashion shows kicked off.

Armani -- whose business is worth around $2.4 billion a year in sales -- has recently delegated more responsibility to non-family members and last month said "there comes a time when you must hand it over."

That added to speculation about his health since a bout of hepatitis left him frail last year, and Armani himself has kept investors guessing on the future of the company, at times hinting at a bourse listing and at other times signaling he could sell.

"I will never sell because I don't need to and I don't want to," he told Italy's Corriere della Sera newspaper in an interview published on the day of the autumn/winter menswear show for his Emporio Armani line.

"And I'm not stepping aside either, as long as I can, touch wood, keep up this pace," he added.

"I don't give a damn about a super-golden pension, I wouldn't know what to do with it."

The white-haired designer who started his own collection over 30 years ago is one of the best-known designers in the global fashion industry and his business also takes in interior design, hotels and perfumes.

"This is my life, I don't have any other and I don't want any other. If I could, the only thing I would change is my age," he told Corriere della Sera.

Armani told the newspaper that the hotel he designed in Dubai's Burj Khalifa, the world's tallest tower, was "a special thing ... a sort of monument to what I have done in my life."

The hotel spans 36 floors and includes five restaurants, Armani said.

The Burj Khalifa opened on January 4. It was developed by Emaar Properties -- a venture 31.2 percent owned by the Dubai government, which is struggling with a huge debt pile.

Armani has a joint venture with Emaar to develop hotels worldwide.

(Reporting by Jo Winterbottom; editing by Patrick Graham)

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