Confirmed: Roberto Cavalli Sold To Dubai-Based Property Developer Damac

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MILAN — After about three weeks of speculation, DM Fashion Book could now confirm that Dubai-based property developer Damac is the new owner of the Roberto Cavalli brand. This announcement confirms our original report. Last month we reported that Damac has emerged as the investor most likely to buy the house (see it here).

Vision Investment Co. LLC, controlled by Hussain Sajwani, the founder and chairman of the Damac Properties Group is the new owner of Roberto Cavalli SpA.

Vision Investment has signed a binding contract with the Florence-based fashion company and its shareholder Varenne 3 to acquire 100% of the firm.

Damac Properties was ranked number one on the Forbes 2017 Global 2,000 list of the fastest-growing global companies based on the compound annual growth rate of revenues from 2013 to 2016, according to Wikipedia. In the Forbes 2018 rankings, Sajwani was the world’s fourth richest Arab with a net worth of $4.1 billion.

The binding agreement is in compliance with Cavalli’s so-called process of “composition with creditors” with the Court of Milan and it allows the business to continue while it holds discussions with creditors and implements a debt restructuring plan. Financial details and the amount of the debt were not disclosed, although sources peg the transaction at around 160 million euros.

Market sources believe the agreement includes a capital increase of around 65 million euros and the payment of all creditors.

The sale is complicated by the fact that there are a number of steps that must be approved by the Milan Court. The buyer has presented an industrial plan, which is being evaluated and which needs to be approved by a judge. The Cavalli company has to define an agreement with its creditors and submit it to the judge by Aug. 3, with a ruling expected in mid-September. Only then will the transfer of shares to the new owner be completed.

At the same time, the unions are asking for clarity.

For the time being, the buyer has not mapped out its industrial plan to the unions,” Luca Barbetti, from the Filctem and Cgil Unions, told WWD on Tuesday. “The [Damac] offer was financially the most consistent and sustainable — the one out of the four presented that would help the relaunch of the company and it was accepted by both the court and the shareholders.”

Barbetti said the unions want to understand the impact of the deal on the Cavalli workforce, following a regional meeting held on Monday during which there was no mention of an employment plan at the Sesto Fiorentino headquarters. “The Aug. 3 deadline is looming, and it also marks the end of the solidarity contract, and we have no concrete and clear elements for the future. We are asking for guarantees that the brand will continue to be headquartered and produced in Sesto Fiorentino,” he said.

That said, Barbetti conceded that Damac does not have other production sites, “which gives us hope for the Sesto plant.”

Cavalli’s union representatives on Tuesday lamented the “management’s reticence and the lack of participation” of the commissioner charged with overseeing the sale of the company, who did not attend the Monday meeting. For this reason, the unions have requested “a meeting with the Court of Milan to be compulsorily held by July 24,” demanding the commissioner or a substitute to illustrate the plans to relaunch the company to the employees.

The brand, which is helmed by chief executive officer Gian Giacomo Ferraris, did not officially present a spring men’s wear collection in June at Pitti Uomo or in Milan.

A property developer, Damac is based in Dubai and given its relationship with Ferraris, sources believe he is expected to stay on after the deal has been signed. Sources say he has been actively involved in working to maintain production in Italy.

Damac was especially interested in Cavalli because its strategic investment arm Dico International is working on a five-star hotel tower in Dubai that is expected to comprise 220 rooms and to be completed in 2023. When the deal was revealed, Cavalli’s chief executive officer Gian Giacomo Ferraris said this was the first of at least five hotels, called Aykon, to open in 10 years. Damac, which is one of the top 10 companies publicly listed on the Dubai Financial Market with a market capitalization of $4 billion, is funding the project with an investment of $500 million. Damac is also building Just Cavalli villas in Dubai.

Cavalli received a total of five offers. Three offers were binding for 100 percent of the company. Another binding offer was made to purchase unspecified company assets, while a fifth party submitted a nonbinding expression of interest.

April 2019DM Fashion Book reported that a spokesperson said the company’s U.S. subsidiary, operating under the ArtFashion Corp. moniker, is filing for Chapter 7 this week (see it here).

This follows the announcement that day that Roberto Cavalli SpA’s board had decided to file a restructuring plan with the Court of Milan that would allow it to continue to operate while holding discussions with creditors under the so-called process of  “composition with creditors.”

On the evening of March 29, all U.S. stores ceased operations, going out of business starting from the following day. Merchandise and store keys were taken into custody by a security company and handed over to the trustee.

On April 1, 2019, news broke that Paul Surridge has resigned, leaving his role as creative director of the Roberto Cavalli brand (see it here).

Last December 2018, we reported that Italian fashion designer and OTB Group‘s President Renzo Rosso, was interested in buying Roberto Cavalli through his OTB holding companyIl Sole 24 Ore (see it here). OTB’s Staff International is Just Cavalli’s licensee, so the  investment would also have made sense for OTBRenzo Rosso’s OTB is parent of brands such as DieselMarniMaison Margiela and just recently the Amiri brand (see it here).

The New York-based Marquee Brands, whose portfolio includes Ben Sherman, Bruno Magli, Body Glove, BCBG Max Azria, BCBGeneration and the Dakine athletic brand, was also another interested party.

According to market sources, Bluestar Alliance, which has investments in Tahari, Bebe and Catherine Malandrino, continued to look at Cavalli and presented an offer.

February 2019, we exclusively report that a Roberto Cavalli sale is approaching. And from the looked of it, Philipp Plein wanted to be the new owner (see it here).

Photos Credit: Courtesy of Roberto Cavalli

Source: WWD

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Donovan is the CEO and Editor-In-Chief of For all general inquiries please email Donovan has a BA in Journalism & Media Studies from the prestigious Rutgers University. He's currently studying entertainment and fashion law.