February 26, 2018 / 1:43 PM / a year ago

Sapinda buys lingerie firm La Perla after Fosun talks stumble

MILAN (Reuters) - Investment firm Sapinda Holdings said on Monday it had acquired Italian luxury-lingerie maker La Perla, after a disagreement over moving production out of Europe derailed acquisition talks with China’s Fosun (0656.HK), according to two sources.

FILE PHOTO: The La Perla logo is seen backstage before the La Perla Autumn/Winter 2017 collection during New York Fashion Week, February 9, 2017. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid/File Photo

Conglomerate Fosun, which recently snapped up Parisian fashion label Lanvin, had entered exclusive talks to buy the brand last December.

But negotiations stalled because the Chinese group wanted to move production of La Perla’s lacy underwear to China, two sources with knowledge of the discussions said.

“The one-month exclusive talks with Fosun ended in mid-January. The negotiations went on for some more but in the end failed,” one of the sources said.

Talks with Sapinda, a vehicle co-founded by German entrepreneur Lars Windhorst, began shortly afterwards, the source said, and the group had pledged to keep manufacturing in Italy and in Portugal, where the group has a plant that employs 300 people.

Fosun, which also owns French leisure group Club Med and has a stake in Chinese underwear-maker Cosmo Lady (2298.HK), could not immediately be reached for comment.

Sapinda, which has offices in Amsterdam, Berlin, London and Hong Kong and investments ranging from real estate to agriculture, did not disclose any financial details of the acquisition.

Italian entrepreneur Silvio Scaglia, founder of telecoms group Fastweb, has owned La Perla, whose bras sometimes fetch more than $600, since 2013.

He bought the struggling group for 69 million euros ($81 million) at a court-led auction, through family holding Pacific Global Management, and invested over 300 million euros in the brand to fund an expansion into Asia and elsewhere.

“I know that Sapinda has the necessary resources to take La Perla to the next level and continue my vision of building a global luxury brand, but keeping production in Europe,” Scaglia said in a statement.

Sapinda’s Windhorst said the firm was “prepared to further invest” in La Perla.

Headquartered in London, the brand was founded in 1954 in the northern Italian town of Bologna, known for its silk industry. Besides lingerie, the company makes nightwear, beachwear and ready-to-wear clothing.

The group generated sales of 140 million euros in 2017 and is expected to break even by the end of 2018, Scaglia said in a recent interview to Forbes.

($1 = 0.8111 euros)

Writing by Sarah White, editing by Larry King

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