April 29, 2008 / 8:20 PM / 10 years ago

Bids for Italy's Cavalli due by mid-May: report

MILAN (Reuters) - Investors interested in Italian fashion house Roberto Cavalli will have to submit their bids by mid-May, Italian news agency Radiocor reported on Tuesday, citing financial sources.

Three or four investment funds are interested in the Florence-based company and bids will have to value it at least 1.4 billion euros ($2.18 billion), Radiocor said.

Cavalli said last month its adviser Merrill Lynch would soon start an auction process by sending an information memorandum to potential investors.

U.S. private equity firm Blackstone was interested in taking a stake in Cavalli, a person familiar with the matter said in March. A different source said Carlyle Group was also considering it.

An Italian newspaper report has quoted fashion designer Roberto Cavalli as saying in an interview that Merrill Lynch has prepared a list of around 15 interested parties.

He was quoted as saying that he had met with managers of British private equity firm CVC Capital Partners and “liked them.”

Cavalli, famous for his animal print design, owns brands Roberto Cavalli and Just Cavalli.

In October, Cavalli told Reuters he would consider selling as much as 30 percent of his firm, which he valued at over 2 billion euros ($3.04 billion).

But since then, stock markets have declined and the global economy has weakened, reducing investor appetite for equity.

One banker familiar with the luxury goods sector said in March a valuation was then closer to one billion than two billion euros.

Cavalli’s larger rivals, Prada and Salvatore Ferragamo, are still planning to sell shares to the public this year, market conditions permitting.

This month, the Italian press quoted Prada Chief Executive Patrizio Bertelli as saying the Milanese fashion house wanted to list but was in no hurry.

Reporting by Valentina Za, Editing by Toni Reinhold

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