Valentino Fashion Group has just been sold to the investment firm Mayhoola Group, backed by the Qatari royal family, in a deal estimated at 700 million euros ($858 million). In the deal the Mayhoola Group is also scooping up the M Missoni line.
Mayhoola said in a statement: "Valentino has always been a brand of unique creativity and undisputed prestige. We are impressed by the work of the two Creative Directors, Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccioli, and by the management team led by Stefano Sassi."
The Qatari royal family, which also owns London’s Harrods department store, is in the midst of building up its luxury holdings. Analysts believe that this purchase was in part spearheaded by the wife of the Qatari Emir, Sheikha Mozah, a longtime Valentino customer.
Valentino was founded in 1960 by Valentino Garavani and became famed for trademark red evening gowns and a celebrity clientele that has over the years included everyone from Jacqueline Kennedy to Gwyneth Paltrow.
Garavani retired from his namesake brand in 2007, the same year the company was scooped up by private equity firm Permira, which acquired the fashion house in a deal that included Hugo Boss for $5.3 billion, one of the largest deals in Europe that year.
Valentino was hit hard by the financial crisis, and had to restructure its debts in 2009. Thanks to luxury’s comeback in recent months Valentino's earnings grew 300 percent in 2011 and are expected to grow significantly in 2012.
This is not the first Italian fashion house to find a buyer from the East. French-Italian luxury brand Cerruti was acquired by Hong Kong's Trinity Ltd. in 2010. Gianfranco Ferré was bought by Dubai's Paris Group a year later.