At least 7 potentially bidding for Versace stake: sources

MILAN Fri Oct 11, 2013 2:40pm EDT

A sign is seen for high-end retail store Versace along 5th Avenue in New York May 19, 2013. REUTERS/Eric Thayer

A sign is seen for high-end retail store Versace along 5th Avenue in New York May 19, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Eric Thayer

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MILAN (Reuters) - At least seven potential buyers are in the running to bid for a minority holding in Italian fashion house Versace, which plans to sell a 15-20 percent stake to fund growth, sources close to the talks told Reuters on Friday.

Versace's financial advisers, Banca IMI (ISP.MI) and Goldman Sachs (GS.N) "have told a small group of investors that they can proceed with the bidding process", one source said.

The investors considering buying the stake include Italy's state-controlled fund FSI, Bahrain's Investcorp INVB.BH, and private equity firms Ardian, Permira, KKR & Co (KKR.N), Clessidra and Blackstone (BX.N), the sources said.

FSI, Ardian, Clessidra and Blackstone declined to comment. Investcorp, Permira and KKR were not immediately available to comment.

One source said the fashion house, known for its tight-fitting dresses sported by Lady Gaga and Madonna, had not yet drawn up a shortlist of potential partners, and was unlikely to do so before the December holiday season.

Chief Executive Gian Giacomo Ferraris said in September Versace planned to finalise a shortlist by mid-October.

One source said potential bidders had been told that the deadline for expressions of interest in buying the stake was November 30, but this was subject to change.

Versace is entirely controlled by the family of late founder Gianni Versace, whose sister, creative director Donatella Versace, owns 20 percent of the company, brother Santo 30 percent, and niece Allegra 50 percent.

(Reporting by Massimo Gaia and Isla Binnie, writing by Isla Binnie; editing by Agnieszka Flak and David Evans)

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