By Jeffrey Goldfarb
LONDON, Feb 5 (Reuters) - Upscale women’s shoe designer Jimmy Choo Ltd. has been sold for the third time in six years — the latest to a group led by private equity firm TowerBrook Capital at a value of 185 million pounds ($364.1 million).
The London-based maker of glamorous, high-heeled shoes has achieved acclaim on the hit TV show “Sex and the City” and on Hollywood red carpets and has expanded from 23 stores to 60 under Lion Capital, which bought it two years ago at an overall value of 101 million pounds.
The firms confirmed the latest deal after a person familiar with the matter told Reuters it was imminent on Sunday. They did not disclose the shareholding structure or what percentage stake TowerBrook acquired, though it will be the majority owner.
Tamara Mellon, a former editor at Vogue magazine and a co-founder of the company in 1996 with its namesake, will continue to oversee Jimmy Choo’s creative direction, image and promotional activities, the companies said.
“This new partnership will not only give us the ability to meet the demand that is creating for our range of products, but also achieve my original vision for Jimmy Choo to be one of the world’s most treasured luxury brands,” Mellon said in a statement.
Mellon and other managers remain minority shareholders. Choo is no longer affiliated with the company.
Spanish private equity firm Gala Capital is also investing with TowerBrook Capital, which was started two years ago by former co-heads of an investment arm of George Soros.
Lion Capital, which was formerly the European arm of private equity firm Hicks, Muse, Tate & Furst, bought Jimmy Choo in November 2004 from Phoenix Equity Partners. Phoenix Equity bought a 51 percent stake in 2001 in partnership with Robert Bensoussan, who was brought in as chief executive and will stay on with the third ownership group.
“The Jimmy Choo brand has great potential for further growth, and we are committed to developing it both internationally and through extended ranges,” Bensoussan said. “I am also excited at the prospect of working alongside TowerBrook to make further acquisitions in the luxury goods sector.”
((Reporting by Jeffrey Goldfarb; editing by Jane Baird; Reuters Messaging: firstname.lastname@example.org, tel: +44 207 542 8793, email: email@example.com))
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