UPDATE 1-Fashion house Versace may seek outside investors

Fri May 25, 2012 1:52pm EDT

(Adds Versace statement)

By Antonella Ciancio

MILAN May 25 (Reuters) - Italian family-owned fashion house Versace may seek outside investors and could consider an initial public offering to fund growth and help it better compete in the global luxury industry, its chief executive said on Friday.

Versace, known for its glamorous gowns worn by pop icons such as Madonna and Lady Gaga, returned to profit last year for the first time since 2009, when it started a turnaround to rebuild its international market share.

The family has always cherished its independence, but needs financial ammunition after luxury peers such as Prada, Salvatore Ferragamo and Brunello Cucinelli have successfully tapped the stock market in less than a year.

"The management is studying some advisors, but no solution has yet been decided," Chief Executive Gian Giacomo Ferraris said in a text to Reuters.

Italy's weekly il Mondo said on Friday Versace had picked Goldman Sachs to seek a partner or study other financial solutions for the medium term, which may include the issue of financial instruments such as bonds.

The Versace family reiterated on Friday that it wants to keep control of the house.

Many family-owned firms, proud of their heritage, are reluctant to invite a partner at their table that may decide on their strategy.

That's why companies with strong family roots such as Prada, Ferragamo and Cucinelli have opted for selling a minority stake on the stock market with clear rules granting them managing continuity.

"We intend to remain independent," the company said in an email later on Friday in response to the article in il Mondo.

Ferraris said the group has not yet given a mandate to an adviser. A steering committee meeting was due later on Friday.

Versace said it could also opt for an initial public offering if advised to do so, but no decision has been taken.

In March, Ferraris told Reuters that any deal would not take place before 2014, when he aims for core earnings (EBITDA) of 20 percent of sales compared to around 11 percent last year. EBITDA rose 73 percent to 38.7 million euros in 2011.

Platinum-blonde designer Donatella Versace, sister of late founder Gianni Versace, owns the group with her brother Santo and her daughter Allegra, who has 50 percent and joined the board last year.

Privately-owned Italian fashion group Roberto Cavalli has also said it wants to deliver on its turnaround plan before looking to a possible sale or initial public offering. (Editing by Mark Potter and Jon Loades-Carter)

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