Iconic Italian fashion house Valentino has been snapped up by the Qatari royal family for €700m (US$857.46m), marking one of the most prominent purchases of a European top designer brand by an emerging market investor. Valentino said Mayhoola for Investments SPC, which is backed by a leading Qatari investor, had acquired full ownership of Valentino Fashion Group from London-based private equity fund Permira and Italian textile entrepreneurs Marzotto.
Valentino did not disclose financial details of the sale nor name the investor. But two sources close to the deal told Reuters the Qatari royal family had acquired Valentino in a deal that values it about €700m. Founded by designer Valentino Garavani, the Italian high-end fashion brand acquired global fame thanks to its trademark bright-red chiffon dresses, loved by princesses and Hollywood stars alike.
Perella Weinberg Partners was the adviser for the Qataris, while Mediobanca and UniCredit advised Valentino. Valentino is the latest Italian luxury brand to be bought by a foreign investor, a sign of the resilience of the sector even as Italy sinks into a deep recession. In December 2010, high-end menswear retailer Trinity bought Italian menswear brand Cerruti for US$70m. In 2011, Dubai retailer Paris Group bought fashion house Gianfranco Ferre.
The Qataris, who also own London's Harrods department store, have been one of the world's most active investors with assets ranging from stakes in German sports car maker Porsche to shares in British bank Barclays. Permira took control of Valentino Fashion Group, which at the time included Valentino and German menswear brand Hugo Boss, at a market peak in 2007 for €5.3bn in one of the largest deals in Europe that year. In December 2009, hit by the financial crisis, Valentino had to restructure its debt and Permira, together with the Marzottos, placed Hugo Boss, which has a market capitalisation of around €5.4bn, in a separate entity.