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MILAN, Dec 17 (Reuters) - Private equity firm Clessidra said on Wednesday it was in exclusive talks with Roberto Cavalli to take a majority stake in the Italian fashion house if they can reach an accord by March 2015.
The announcement comes after the collapse of talks between the Florentine fashion label and VTB Capital, the investment arm of Russian lender VTB Bank, over a majority stake.
Roberto Cavalli, 74, would keep a stake in the label he founded half a century ago and help new management "relaunch and develop" it, Clessidra said in a statement.
The Italian private equity fund and Cavalli tried back in 2009 to agree on the sale of a 30 percent stake but talks were broken off.
On several occasions high valuations have proven to be a stumbling block to finding a new investor in the fashion brand famous for its bold animal prints.
Earlier this year, Cavalli pulled out of a deal with London buyout firm Permira after failing to agree on a price tag based on a multiple of around 18 times core earnings of 25 million euros ($31 million). It then approached Bahrain-based private equity company Investcorp, but was turned down.
Clessidra said Francesco Trapani, its current executive vice president and formerly at the helm of Italian jeweller Bulgari, would become chairman of the Cavalli group.
Earlier this year Clessidra bought a 35 percent stake in Harmont & Blaine to help fund the expansion of the Naples-based casual wear brand.
$1 = 0.8102 euros Reporting by Valentina Za; Editing by Mark Potter