Jimmy Choo founder eyes £500m offer

TAMARA MELLON, the former fashion PR-turned-luxury goods tycoon, could front a £500m takeover bid for the designer shoe company she founded 16 years ago.

Mellon is considering a buyout of Jimmy Choo backed by a consortium of sovereign wealth funds, pension schemes and private individuals, according to a report yesterday. The move would see the fourth significant change in the company’s ownership during its lifetime.

Towerbrook Capital Partners, Jimmy Choo’s private equity owner, on Friday said it had hired Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley to carry out a strategic review of the business. The outcome may see Towerbrook bring in another investor or inject more cash into the company, a source said. It may also decide to sell or exit through a stockmarket flotation.

Mellon founded the stiletto maker in partnership with a Malaysian-born cobbler named Jimmy Choo in 1996, using a £150,000 loan from her father. The venture grew quickly as its shoes were adopted by celebrity A-listers and first attracted private equity interest in 2001, when it was bought out by Phoenix Equity Partners. Phoenix sold out to Lion Capital for £101m in 2004, before TowerBrook snapped it up for £187m in 2007.

Mellon remains chief creative officer and is known as a hardened dealmaker. Three years ago she lined up the backing of Saad Group, a privately held Saudi Arabian investment vehicle, to stave off a management buyout led by then-chief executive Robert Bensoussan. In the event, she used financing from TowerBrook.

FAST FACTS | JIMMY CHOO
● Jimmy Choo shoes are worn by Hollywood starlets such as Halle Berry and Hilary Swank.

● Tamara Mellon has a 17 per cent stake in the business. Around 23 per cent is owned by management, with the rest held by TowerBrook.