Versace suitors prepare bids

FASHION giant Versace is being pursued by a host of suitors keen to bid for a much-coveted stake in the company. Several big private equity buyout names, including Ardian – formerly Axa Private Equity – Permira, KKR, Clessidra and Blackstone, are all considering bidding for the 15-20 per cent stake in the company. Italy’s state-controlled fund FSI and Bahrain private equity group Investcorp are also thought to be in the running. A shortlist is due to be drawn up this month. The company, which makes clothes for fashionistas like singer M.I.A (pictured) and Lady Gaga, was founded by the late Gianni Versace in 1978 and is currently entirely controlled by his family. His sister Donatella Versace owns 20 per cent of the company, his brother Santo owns 30 per cent, and his niece Allegra owns 50 per cent. Banca IMI and Goldman Sachs are advising the company.