October 10, 2007 / 5:08 PM / 12 years ago

Revived Faberge firm links up with founder's family

(Repeats to wider number of subscribers)

By Eric Onstad

JOHANNESBURG, Oct 10 (Reuters) - Faberge Ltd, which investors are reviving as a luxury goods group, has linked up with relatives of the 19th century Russian founder, the firm said on Wednesday.

The original Faberge company was founded in 1842 by Russian jeweller Gustav Faberge, who gained fame for designing elaborate jewel-encrusted eggs for Russian czars.

Tatiana and Sarah Faberge, who are among the descendants of Gustav Faberge, have now agreed to sit on a council aiming to restore the exclusive nature of the company.

“This constitutes the reunification of the House of Faberge and a new chapter in its history,” Sarah Faberge said.

The original Faberge family was scattered by the Bolshevik revolution in 1917, but Gustav’s grandsons who established a new Faberge firm in Paris discovered after World War II that a U.S. businessman was selling perfume under their family name.

They launched a lawsuit, but ran out of money and ceded rights to their family name to a U.S. firm in 1951 for $25,000. The Faberge brand then went through many owners before being sold for $1.55 billion to consumer goods group Unilever (ULVR.L)UNc.AS in 1989.

A group of investors bought the Faberge brand in January for an undisclosed sum from Unilever, which had been using it for a variety of cosmetics brands, including Brut perfume.

Sean Gilbertson, a partner in London-based Pallinghurst Resources, which leads the group that controls Faberge, told Reuters in May that the revived Faberge would be involved in a range of luxury goods, including diamonds.

Pallinghurst is headed by Brian Gilbertson, former chief of mining group BHP Billiton (BHP.AX) and father of Sean.

Faberge also said on Wednesday it had appointed as chief executive Mark Dunhill, former president of Alfred Dunhill, the leather and accessories brand of Swiss luxury goods maker Richemont CFR.VX.

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