Samsonite to consider $1bn share issue

Marion Dakers
LUGGAGE maker Samsonite is considering a $1bn (£640bn) public offering in Hong Kong, a debt refinancing or a trade sale, people close to the company confirmed yesterday.

Samsonite has signed up Goldman Sachs to help examine its options, though the evaluation is at an early stage and a decision is expected to take months rather than weeks, one source said.

CVC acquired Samsonite from a group of private equity owners in July 2007 for a total of $1.7bn, including debt, but handed a 40 per cent stake in the firm to RBS last year when the lender agreed to reduce Samsonite’s debts from $800m to $240m.
The company has come close to breaching its banking covenenants.

US-headquartered Samsonite was hit hard by the downturn in travel during the financial crisis but sales of its suitcases have since recovered and it is on course to post a profit of £128m this year.

The company sells luggage and accessories under the Samsonite, Lacoste and Timberland brand names, and pledged earlier in the year to double its sales in emerging markets such as India every two years.

CVC, which manages $38bn in funds, owns 53 companies worldwide.

The firm owns stakes in Formula One Group, the AA and Madame Tussauds owner Merlin.

Samsonite, CVC and Goldman Sachs declined to comment yesterday, while RBS did not return calls for comment.

FAST FACTS | samsonite

● Luggage manufacturer Samsonite was founded in 1910 in Denver, Colorado
● The company had a turnover of £802.5m in 2008, although sales have declined since the financial crisis