Why Michael Kors Is on the Verge of Buying Versace

September 24, 2018, 10:47 AM UTC

The legendary fashion house of Versace is about to be sold to a U.S. company for $2 billion, according to Italy’s biggest newspaper, Corierra della Sera. Bloomberg reports the buyer as Michael Kors Holdings, which would take over private investor Blackstone’s share and preserve the Versace family’s involvement.

Sources told the newspaper the official announcement from Milan would come Tuesday, when creative director Donatella Versace has scheduled a staff meeting, but that confirmation of the news could come within hours.

Versace, which makes more than half of its sales in Asia, would be a crown jewel for Michael Kors Holdings (KORS), which last year purchased shoe brand Jimmy Choo for $1.2 billion.

Another potential buyer whose name was floating around Milan Fashion Week was jeweler Tiffany & Co. (TIF), which is headed up by an Italian CEO who has been trying to shake things up.

Private equity group Blackstone bought a 20% stake in Versace in 2014, valuing the company at $1 billion, to fund overseas expansion with the idea of taking the company public. CEO Jonathan Akeroyd told Reuters in January there was no rush for an IPO. The rest of the company is held by the Versace family.

WWD reported that sources said Blackstone could be looking for an exit in the next few months, given how long they’ve already held on to the asset, and selling to another private equity fund was unlikely.

The fashion house, founded by designer Gianni Versace in 1978, posted sales of €686 million in 2017 with net profits of €15 million. Akeroyd said in June he expected turnover to exceed €1 billion in the “short term.”