Milanese fashion house Versace is close to being bought out by US luxury fashion firm Michael Kors in a deal worth around $2billion (£1.53billion), according to reports in the Italian press.
Versace, one of the few Italian fashion companies which is still independent, is reportedly finalising the terms of the deal today.
An official announcement is expected this evening or tomorrow at the latest, according to Italian press agency Ansa.
From left: Former top models Carla Bruni, Claudia Schiffer, Naomi Campbell, Cindy Crawford and Helena Christensen display iconic creations of late Italian designer Gianni Versace in 2017
Shares in New York-listed Michael Kors, which last year acquired show brand Jimmy Choo for £896million, fell by more than 8 per cent on the rumours.
The expected deal, first reported by Italian daily Il Corriere della Sera last week, would see the Versace family sell its 80 per cent stake and US private equity firm Blackstone the remaining 20 per cent which it acquired in 2014.
Donatella Versace, sister of late founder Gianni, became the fashion house artistic director and vice-president after Gianni was was murdered in Miami Beach in 1997.
She holds a 20 per cent stake in the company, her daughter Allegra has a 50 per cent stake, while Santo, Donatella’s brother, holds the remaining 30 per cent.
The deal with Michael Kors would come after the rumoured retreat of Kering, the French fashion giant which owns luxury brands like Gucci, Yves Saint Laurent and Alexander McQueen.
The late Gianni Versace and his sister Donatella in New York in the 1990s
At the time of founder Gianni Versace’s death, the company had been making plans for a listing on the New York Stock Exchange, but it has remained private ever since.
Rumours of an IPO have resurfaced since the company sold a 20 per cent stake to private equity giant Blackstone in 2014.
In 2016, Versace poached Alexander McQueen’s boss Jonathan Akeroyd to help it smarten up for a stock market listing, although that never materialised.
Versace was founded by Gianni Versace in 1978. The 50-year-old was murdered on the steps of his Miami apartment in 1997.
Last year, Versace brought back former top models Carla Bruni, Claudia Schiffer, Naomi Campbell, Cindy Crawford and Helena Christensen to the fashion house’s catwalk.