By Isla Binnie
MILAN Feb 21 Italy's Versace hopes to make a
final decision on a partner to take a minority stake in the
fashion house in one or two weeks, its chief executive said on
Versace, which has been wholly owned by the family of
founder Gianni Versace since his murder in 1997, is selling a 20
percent stake to an outside investor to fund growth.
Asked how long the process would take, Chief Executive Gian
Giacomo Ferraris told Reuters, "One week, or two weeks.
"They are fighting it out," he said, speaking before the
luxury brand showed an autumn-winter women's wear collection at
Milan fashion week.
U.S. funds Blackstone and CCMP and Bahrain's
Investcorp have been on the shortlist to buy the 20 percent
stake in the brand, and Ferraris said the three investors were
all still in the running.
Versace has been valued at 1.1 billion euros by Italy's
state-backed Fondo Strategico Italiano, one of the bidders
initially vying for the stake, people familiar with the
situation have said.
The company plans to list publicly in three to five years
and is looking for a partner that will not interfere in
day-to-day management. It aims to raise funds to open more shops
internationally and develop its clothing and accessories ranges.
Investor appetite for Italian luxury listings has been
strong in recent years. Most recently, ski wear maker Moncler's
shareholders raised around 784 million euros in an
initial public offering in December.
Versace will issue fresh shares as part of the stake sale,
through which it aims to raise funds to open new shops and
expand its product offering, especially its high-end "first