Ex-LVMH executive Trapani joins private equity firm Clessidra

PARIS, April 2 Wed Apr 2, 2014 1:07pm EDT

PARIS, April 2 (Reuters) - Francesco Trapani, former senior executive at LVMH and head of Italian jeweller Bulgari, has been appointed executive vice-chairman of Clessidra to strengthen the Italian private equity firm's pool of seasoned industrial managers.

Trapani, who joined LVMH when he sold his family business Bulgari to the world's biggest luxury group in 2011, resigned as group head of watches and jewellery on March 1.

No formal explanation was given for Trapani's departure.

Clessidra Chairman and Chief Executive Claudio Sposito has known Trapani for many years as he helped him float Bulgari in Milan in 1995 when he headed Morgan Stanley's investment banking team in Italy.

Sposito said Clessidra had approached Trapani as the fund was keen to have on board the luxury veteran who helped build Bulgari, a 300 million euro company in 1995, into a 4.3 billion business by the time it was sold to LVMH.

"I think private equity firms need to have more industrial experience in-house as there has been too much focus on financial skills in the past," said Sposito, who previously worked Citi, Barclays and Fininvest, the family holding of former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi.

Clessidra, which is specialised in "Made in Italy" businesses and has controlled high-end jeweller Buccellati since last year, runs two closed funds of 820 million euros ($1.13 billion)and 1.1 billion euros each.

Sposito said hiring Trapani did not mean Clessidra, which was in the final round of bidders for a stake in Versace earlier this year, would be on the lookout for more jewellery assets.

"There are not many targets available in the jewellery market," Sposito said.

He said Clessidra was more interested in high-end consumer goods and other segments such as leather goods and apparel and possibly their suppliers as well, which were very fragmented.

Last month, Clessidra said it would sell its stake in Italian tyre maker Pirelli as part of a deal reached with Russia's top oil producer Rosneft.

Trapani, who received an LVMH stake when his family sold Bulgari to the group, still advises Chief Executive Bernard Arnault on the group's jewellery activities and is still a small shareholder and member of LVMH's board of directors. ($1 = 0.7263 Euros) (Reporting by Astrid Wendlandt, editing by David Evans)

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