Willy Bogner can breathe easily again. The protracted search for a serious investor for his Munich-based fashion and lifestyle brand, seems to have ended.
Chinese conglomerate Fosun and international manager Bernd Beetz have made it into the final round of bidders, along with an unnamed financial investor, Handelsblatt learned from people familiar with the matter. The Fosun/Beetz team is considered the favorite.
The 73-year-old skier, filmmaker and fashion entrepreneur hasn’t signed the purchase agreement yet, because the parties have yet to agree on a price.
Mr. Bogner wants "around €300 million," or $ 327 million, but the bids are closer to €250 million, according to people familiar with the matter.
€250 million is a realistic price. Franz Maximilian Schmid-Preissler, Brand consultant
Mr. Bogner has originally wanted €600 million for the company, which his father founded in 1932, initially as a winter sports clothing brand. This sum was, however, much too high for many of the almost 40 initial bidders, who had contacted U.S. investment firm Goldman Sachs, the company Mr. Bogner had engaged to handle the sale.
Brand expert Franz Maximilian Schmid-Preissler of the eponymous consulting firm said that "€250 million is a realistic price."
According to the latest published annual financial statement, issued in 2013, Willy Bogner's family-owned company had 881 employees, reported sales of €188 million, or €241 including licenses, and operated 18 of its own stores and 52 partner stores worldwide.
Industry insiders see the Beetz/Fosun duo as a good choice for the company. Until his retirement in 2012 Mr. Beetz, 63, spent more than a decade as CEO of cosmetics giant Coty, which is controlled by the ultra-rich German Reimann family.
He helped develop the company into a major force with scents by well-known names such as Calvin Klein, Chloé and Davidoff. He is described as a man with charisma and vision.
Chinese partner Fosun contributes major financial clout. The conglomerate has a portfolio of companies ranging from mining to the Club Med tourism group to the real estate business. Last summer, it acquired almost a quarter of all shares in Hamburg fashion company Tom Tailor.
Mr. Bogner was unwilling to comment on the sale, said a company spokeswoman.