NEW YORK, United States — Chinese textile producer Shandong Ruyi Group is emerging as the leading bidder for Swiss luxury leather goods maker Bally International AG, people with knowledge of the matter said.
Ruyi is in advanced negotiations with the seller and has been discussing a price of about $700 million, according to the people, who asked not to be identified as the information is confidential. Ruyi has pulled ahead of other suitors including Fosun International Ltd., the owner of Club Med, and Chinese apparel manufacturer Fujian Septwolves Industry Co., which expressed interest in the assets earlier, the people said. They haven’t reached a final agreement on the terms, and another bidder may still emerge, they said.
JAB Holding Co., owned by the billionaire Reimann family, said in April it was reviewing options for Bally to focus on its food and beverage business, which has grown into one of the largest operators of coffee chains through acquisitions of Keurig Green Mountain Inc., Krispy Kreme Doughnuts Inc., Caribou Coffee, Peet’s Coffee & Tea and Stumptown Coffee Roasters.
JAB in July bought Panera Bread Co. in a deal that valued the bakery-cafe chain at more than $7 billion, including debt. Also in July, the firm agreed to sell London-based shoemaker Jimmy Choo Plc to Michael Kors Holdings Ltd. for about 896 million pounds ($1.2 billion).
A representative for JAB declined to talk. A representative for Ruyi declined to comment.
Ruyi agreed in November to buy a controlling stake in Trinity Ltd., the owner of British bespoke suit maker Gieves & Hawkes, for HK$2.22 billion ($284 million). The previous month, it agreed to purchase the owner of Lycra, the form-fitting elastic material used in clothing from skinny jeans to yoga pants. In 2016, it acquired SMCP, whose fashion brands include Sandro, Maje and Claudie Pierlot, and agreed to buy British trenchcoat maker Aquascutum last year.
Founded in Schonenwerd, Switzerland, in 1851, Bally makes luxury leather shoes that range from loafers to fur-lined winter boots, as well as belts, bags, wallets and clothing. It was previously owned by U.S. buyout firm TPG, which agreed to sell the firm to JAB in 2008.
By Vinicy Chan, Ruth David; Editor: Ben Scent, Chitra Somayaji.