MILAN Versace is vetting offers from investors interested in buying a minority stake in the Italian fashion house to support its growth plans, designer Donatella Versace said in an interview published on Sunday.
"The Versace brand has an enormous potential. Our advisors are selecting an investor that will buy a minority stake through a capital hike. We are not selling. Being small is neither good nor convenient. We must grow," she was quoted as saying by Italian business daily Il Sole 24 Ore.
The family-owned fashion house, founded in 1978 by the late Gianni Versace, hired banks Goldman Sachs (GS.N) and Intesa Sanpaolo's (ISP.MI) Banca Imi as advisers in May 2012.
The newspaper said the investment banks were drawing up a short list and the partner should be announced by the end of October.
"Of course (we have received offers), but we are examining the quality of the investors and their capacity to support the plan for the coming years...," Versace was quoted as saying.
The fashion house, whose glittering gowns are worn by stars such as Lady Gaga and Madonna, is seeking to strengthen its balance sheet to help fund expansion in overseas markets such as Asia before a possible listing further down the road.
A source with knowledge of the matter told Reuters last week Versace was looking to sell a stake of up to 20 percent by the end of 2013 in a deal that would value the group at more than 1.2 billion euros ($1.6 billion).
Versace Chief Executive Gian Giacomo Ferraris has said the fashion group planned to sell a minority stake privately before listing shares publicly in three to five years.
The company is entirely controlled by the Versace family: late founder Gianni Versace's sister Donatella has a 20 percent stake, her brother Santo has 30 percent while Donatella's daughter Allegra has the remaining 50 percent.
In August Il Sole 24 Ore said a "teaser" - or data sheet about the company - had been sent at the end of July to some 10 investors potentially interested in the group.
According to several sources, Qatar Holding and FSI, an Italian investment fund owned by state lender Cassa Depositi e Prestiti, could be interested in investing in the fashion house.
(Reporting by Danilo Masoni; Editing by Ruth Pitchford)