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Feb 24, 2014
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Versace CEO sees decision on partner in two weeks

Feb 24, 2014

MILAN, Italy - Italy's Versace hopes to make a final decision on a partner to take a minority stake in the fashion house in one or two weeks, its chief executive said on Friday.

Lady Gaga for Versace | Source: Versace

Versace, which has been wholly owned by the family of founder Gianni Versace since his murder in 1997, is selling a 20 percent stake to an outside investor to fund growth.

Asked how long the process would take, Chief Executive Gian Giacomo Ferraris told Reuters, "One week, or two weeks."

"They are fighting it out," he said, speaking before the luxury brand showed an autumn-winter women's wear collection at Milan fashion week.

U.S. funds Blackstone and CCMP and Bahrain's Investcorp have been on the shortlist to buy the 20 percent stake in the brand, and Ferraris said the three investors were all still in the running.

Versace has been valued at 1.1 billion euros by Italy's state-backed Fondo Strategico Italiano, one of the bidders initially vying for the stake, people familiar with the situation have said.

The company plans to list publicly in three to five years and is looking for a partner that will not interfere in day-to-day management. It aims to raise funds to open more shops internationally and develop its clothing and accessories ranges.

Investor appetite for Italian luxury listings has been strong in recent years. Most recently, ski wear maker Moncler's shareholders raised around 784 million euros in an initial public offering in December.

Versace will issue fresh shares as part of the stake sale, through which it aims to raise funds to open new shops and expand its product offering, especially its high-end "first line" clothing.

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