Versace Might Be Considering an IPO

Forget about Facebook. Fashion IPO's are a hot topic lately after companies like Michael Kors and Prada successfully went public. Could Versace be the next one to hit a stock market near you?
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Forget about Facebook. Fashion IPO's are a hot topic lately after companies like Michael Kors and Prada successfully went public. Could Versace be the next one to hit a stock market near you?
Photo: Getty

Photo: Getty

Forget about Facebook. Fashion IPO's are a hot topic lately after companies like Michael Kors and Prada successfully went public. Could Versace be the next one to hit a stock market near you?

Maybe. The family-owned house of Versace has had a lot of financial ups and downs in the years since its founder Gianni Versace died. Back in 1997, Gianni had been planning an IPO, but his sudden death threw the company into turmoil for a few years. The company looked at an IPO as an option again in 2004 and 2006-2007; nothing came to fruition and then the company fell on hard times again. Versace has since pulled itself out of a hole, and is now profitable for the first time since 2009, according to Reuters.

The house could be pretty attractive to potential investors right now: It's opening new stores all over the world, recently relaunched its couture Versace Atelier collection, and most importantly--is making money. A Milan-based analyst told WWD that Versace hits all the sweet spots that banks searching for fashion investment opportunities want: It recently restructured, it's known globally, and the namesake designer (Donatella) still works for the company. But right now it looks like Versace wants to keep it in the family.

After an Italian paper reported that Versace was seeking investors (and had supposedly tapped Goldman Sachs to look at all the company's financial options), the label's CEO, Gian Giacomo Ferraris set the record straight. “The family is evaluating possible alternatives, talking to advisers and banks, together with the management, but is not seeking a partner," he told WWD. "The family has no intention to sell any shares. It wants to be entirely independent and maintain 100 percent control over the company." But that doesn't mean they aren't keeping their eyes on potential opportunities.

Reuters reports that Versace would do an IPO if advised to do so, but so far that hasn't happened. Right now Donatella Versace owns 30% of the shares, her brother Santo holds 20% and daughter Allegra Versace Beck owns 50%--which means huge payouts for the family even if they sell a minority share (which is what they would have to do to retain control). Of course, nothing in this market is a sure thing, and Versace may be right to stay the course and wait it out.