Richemont, the world’s largest jewelry maker, has held talks with banks to discuss options for the London-based company, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the plans aren’t public. It may also consider a sale, two of the people said.
Richemont, based in Geneva, bought the two-thirds of Net-a-Porter it didn’t already own in a 2010 deal that valued the retailer at 350 million pounds ($550 million). Rene Weber, an analyst at Bank Vontobel, estimates Net-a-Porter’s sales reached 580 million euros ($728 million) in the year to March and will be about 660 million euros for fiscal 2015. No final decision on a sale or IPO has been made, and Richemont may choose to keep the company.
A representative for Richemont declined to comment.
Net-a-Porter, which sells products such as $2,495 Stella McCartney blazers and $4,900 Fendi handbags, is unprofitable and has been without a chief executive officer since July. Founded by former fashion journalist Natalie Massenet in 2000, the Web retailer faces increasing competition from sites such as Matchesfashion.com and Mytheresa.com, which department-store Neiman Marcus Group Ltd. agreed to buy in September.
Richemont said last year Net-a-Porter isn’t for sale, after reports it held talks to sell the unit to Italian rival Yoox SpA. A spinoff of Net-a-Porter would also revive speculation the company could break up its fashion and leather-goods division, a move it also ruled out last year.
By Svenja O’Donnell, Francine Lacqua, Manuel Baigorri; with assistance from Andrew Roberts, Ruth David, Matthew Campbell. Editors: Celeste Perri, Elizabeth Fournier, Mohammed Hadi.