Qatari fund set to buy French fashion label

22 June 2016

Mayhoola, which owns Valentino, would spend $522m on buying Balmain

Mayhoola, a Qatar-based investment fund which owns Italy’s Valentino, is said to buy the French luxury fashion label Balmain this week for more than €460m ($522m).

The deal, which could be announced on next week, will end months of negotiations between the Qataris and Balmain investors, who include Sanofi co-founder Jean-Francois Dehecq and the family of former chief executive and controlling shareholder Alain Hivelin, news agency Reuters cited three unnamed sources with knowledge of the matter as saying.

Balmain is mainly a wholesale business with fewer than 10 flagships stores around the world. Under the terms of the agreement, Mayhoola has agreed to finance Balmain’s international expansion as well as the development of an accessories line.

Balmain and Mayhoola declined to comment to the news agency.

Hivelin revived Balmain, which was near bankruptcy in 2004, by hiring designers and turning it into one of France’s biggest success stories. It is one of France’s last few remaining major independent fashion labels along with Lanvin and Hermes.

Balmain generated some €130m in sales in 2015, a 25 per cent growth despite global luxury goods downturn, people said.

The final price the buyers are willing to pay for the company, which is unlikely to be disclosed, will depend on how much cash the existing shareholders will take out of the company.

The figure of €460m would value Balmain at around 14 times earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (Ebitda), putting it at a premium to Gucci-owner Kering which is on 8-9 times and in line with expensive stocks such as Prada and Jimmy Choo, the sources said. Mayhoola, an investment vehicle with close ties to Sheikha Mozah, the second wife of the former emir, aims to float Valentino in 2017. It also owns controlling stakes in Italian tailor Pal Zileri and British fashion brand Anya Hindmarch.

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