* Group was bought in 2012 by Mayhoola for Investments
* Owners started looking into IPO in late 2015
* Choice to list not dictated by need for liquidity
By Claudia Cristoferi and Elisa Anzolin
MILAN, Dec 20 (Reuters) - Italian fashion house Valentino plans to list on the Milan stock market sometime from late 2018, with its Qatari owner planning to sell around a quarter of the company in an initial public offering of shares, a source close to the matter said.
The group, founded in 1960 by designer Valentino Garavani in a studio near Rome’s Spanish Steps, retains a classic chic which is still popular with actors strutting the red carpet. Its trademark is a bright magenta red, known as ‘Valentino red’.
Its current owner, Qatari investment vehicle Mayhoola for Investments has close ties to Sheikha Mozah, the second wife of the former emir. It bought Valentino in 2012 from private equity firm Permira for around 700 million euros ($829 million).
Mayhoola started looking into a possible market listing in late 2015 but hesitated because of a slowdown in luxury fashion last year. It also wants to give time for Valentino’s creative director to put his mark on the brand .
Last year Chief Executive Stefano Sassi said there was “too much turbulence to think about a listing”.
With the 1.2 trillion-euro luxury industry picking up this year from a sales slowdown, creative director Pierpaolo Piccioli is looking to establish himself as sole designer at the prestigious fashion house, after creative partner Maria Grazia Chiuri left last year for LVMH’s Dior, the source said.
In step with the pick-up in fashion, two other luxury Italian brands — celebrity label Versace and high-end leather goods maker Furla — are also considering to list, though not before Valentino, other sources have told Reuters.
“Next year’s (IPO) pipeline is well fed,” said Raffaele Jerusalmi, chief executive of the Milan exchange, which expects 20 new listings on the main market next year.
The source said the Valentino IPO process had not yet begun and that a listing would depend on market conditions. There was no plan to boost Valentino’s capital by issuing new shares in the IPO, the source added.
“Mayhoola intends to carry out this operation as it wants to accredit itself in the world of finance, bringing to the market a company that is expected to gain even more value once it is floated,” the source said.
Valentino would list on Milan’s main market, which requires a free-float of at least 25 percent.
Valentino declined to comment. Mayhoola did not respond to a phone call and email requesting comment.
The group reported sales of 1.1 billion euros and core profits of 206 million euros in 2016. Chief Executive Stefano Sassi said in June he hoped for a double-digit growth in sales this year. ($1 = 0.8442 euros) (Reporting by Elisa Anzolin, Claudia Cristoferi; Writing by Giulia Segreti; Editing by Valentina Za)