* Financial details of Richline’s plan not disclosed
* Richline already owns 4 Italian jewellery brands
MILAN, Feb 17 (Reuters) - Richline International, part of U.S. billionaire investor Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway , plans to buy debt-laden jeweller UnoAErre (1AR), in a further expansion into Italian jewellery after a string of acquisitions last year.
Italy-based Richline International, fully owned by Berkshire’s unit Richline Group, said in a statement it has submitted a proposal to buy 1AR Industries SpA to a court which is overseeing the sale of the Italian jewellery group.
Richline International declined to give any financial details of its plan, saying only that it has offered 1AR’s creditors better conditions than those expected from the court-administered sale.
UnoAErre was founded in 1926 in Arezzo, a major Italian goldsmiths centre. It was nicknamed by sector insiders a Fiat of jewellery for bringing affordable gold jewellery to practically every Italian home in the post-war period.
But like other Italian mass market goldsmiths, UnoAErre has been hit hard in the past few years by rapidly growing competition from India, China and Turkey. The company has been put up for sale by the court because of its debt problems.
“1AR is a symbol, it represents the history of the sector and we at Richline would be proud if we could help to keep this symbol alive and make it flourish again,” Richline International said.
Richline International includes four privately held Italian jewellery brands: Carniani, Erz, Farinex and Zeno. Richline has said previously it was looking for other acquisitions in the Italian jewellery market.