Hermès en pourparlers pour vendre ses parts de la Société Jean-Paul Gaultier.
April 01, 2011, 4:56 AM EDT
By Paul Jarvis
(Updates with Les Echos report starting in second paragraph, analyst’s comment in fifth.)
--With assistance from David Whitehouse in Paris, Thomas Mulier in Geneva and Armorel Kenna in Milan. Editors: Celeste Perri, David Risser.
April 1 (Bloomberg) -- Hermes International SCA, the French maker of Birkin and Kelly bags, is in talks to sell its stake in the Jean-Paul Gaultier fashion house less than a year after the designer relinquished his role at the luxury-goods maker.
Hermes received “an expression of interest from potential buyers” of the 45 percent holding, the Paris-based company said today in a statement, without elaborating. PPR SA is one candidate that may study the sale of the stake, French daily Les Echos said today, without citing anyone.
Gaultier stepped down last year as the artistic director of Hermes’s women’s ready-to-wear unit after seven years in the role and was replaced by Christophe Lemaire. The designer has had a relationship with Hermes since 1999, when the company bought a 35 percent stake in his fashion house for $23 million. The stake was later raised.
Hermes may need to raise funds for expansion to help fend off LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton SA after its rival acquired a 20 percent stake, according to Armando Branchini, vice-president of Milan-based consulting firm Intercorporate. Gaultier is seeking capital to develop and mandated Aforge Finance to study options, Les Echos said.
“Luxury companies are increasingly focusing on their core business,” Branchini said. “Also, because of the attack from LVMH, Hermes needs all the liquidity it can get for store openings and other investments.” The value of the business would be based mostly on the royalties from Gaultier perfumes, he added.
Valuations of Gaultier’s fashion house vary from several dozens of millions of euros, according to unidentified possible buyers, to several hundred million euros, according to unidentified people close to the founder, Les Echos reported.
Hermes fell 5 cents to 154.65 euros at 10:45 a.m. in Paris trading. LVMH disclosed it held an Hermes stake in October. It built its holding without the knowledge of the company’s founding family, which controls more than 70 percent of Hermes. The family shareholders have bolstered their defense against a possible LVMH takeover.
Gaultier’s departure from Hermes marked the end of a formal arrangement that began when Jean-Louis Dumas, former president and chief executive officer of Hermes, signed the designer up to bring new blood to the maker of luxury handbags and silk ties. The French couturier is best known for designing the cone bra worn by singer Madonna on her 1990 Blond Ambition tour.
Charlotte Judet, a spokeswoman for PPR, didn’t immediately return calls seeking comment on the Les Echos report.
DealBook: Hermès in Talks for Potential Sale of Gaultier Stake
Business with Reuters - International Herald Tribune - Apr 01 04:55am.
April 1, 2011, 7:52 am Mergers & Acquisitions
Hermès in Talks for Potential Sale of Gaultier Stake
By LIZ ALDERMAN
Hermès — the French maker of Birkin and Kelly handbags that is fending off advances from the LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton luxury conglomerate — said Friday it had begun talks to sell its 45 percent stake in the Jean Paul Gaultier fashion house.
Hermès has received expressions of interest from several international luxury firms that develop global brands, and from non-luxury Asian firms that know the region, for its holding in the Gaultier brand, which has been recovering from a sharp drop in sales after the financial crisis hurt its bottom line.
Mr. Gaultier is looking to raise capital to develop his ready-to-wear line more aggressively in Asia and North America, and Hermès would only sell shares to a partner who would agree to such a strategy, said Damien Bachelot, the president of Aforge, a French mergers and acquisitions firm that manages financial transactions for Mr. Gaultier. The designer may also seek to raise additional capital separately, he said.
“Mr. Gaultier doesn’t want to sell, but on the other hand he wants to have a partner,” said Mr. Bachelot. “No option is closed.” Despite a 19 percent slump in Gaultier sales in 2009, which rebounded last year, Hermès is not rushing to exit, he added.
Christelle Denef, a spokeswoman for Hermès, declined to comment, but said the announcement did not necessarily mean the company would sell its entire stake.
Jelka Music, a spokeswoman for Gaultier, said: “We are aware that Hermès has been approached, but it is too early to say what will happen.’’
Jean-Louis Dumas, the former patriarch of Hermès, recruited Mr. Gaultier, who had a reputation as the bad boy of fashion, in 2003 to design ready-to-wear collections. His headline-grabbing couture included conical-shaped bras for Madonna and skirts for men.
While Mr. Gaultier brought buzz to the house, Hermès never built it into a hard-charging high-fashion group that would take on the likes of Gucci, owned by Pinault Printemps Redoute, or Christian Dior, owned by LVMH.
In fact, the LVMH chairman, Bernard Arnault, passed over Mr. Gaultier and hired the British designer John Galliano to revitalize the Dior fashion house 15 years ago. Soon after, Mr. Gaultier began to self-finance his own line.
LVMH, which has aggravated the Hermès family by taking a stealth 20 percent stake in the company, is not interested in buying Hermès’s shares in Gaultier, said Olivier Labesse, a spokesman.
Mr. Gaultier’s seven-year honeymoon with Hermès faded after Mr. Dumas’s death last May. Two months later, the designer ceded his role and was eventually replaced by Christophe Lemaire, who had been designing for Lacoste since 2000.
Hermès bought 35 percent of the Gaultier brand in 1999 for $23 million, and took another 10 percent share from the designer in 2008 for about 3 million euros. The Gaultier fashion house gets most of its revenue from ready-to-wear licenses and perfumes, and to a lesser extent, from sales of accessories.
The announcement comes amid the changing makeup of the luxury industry. Prada, the Italian fashion house seeking to raise cash, this week applied for an initial public offering on the Hong Kong stock exchange, a move that could allow the company to be listed by the middle of the year. In March, LVMH moved to take control of high-end bobble maker Bulgari.