PARIS, France — Chinese conglomerate Fosun International has won a bidding contest for Lanvin, the world’s oldest continuously running fashion house, beating Mayhoola For Investments, a fund backed by the Qatari royal family which also owns Valentino and Balmain, according to market reports. An official announcement is expected this week.
Fosun is said to be injecting more than €100 million into the near-bankrupt French heritage label, which has faced a downward spiral since the sudden departure of former artistic director Alber Elbaz in October 2015, following disagreements with Lanvin owner Shaw-Lan Wang. According to the reports, the Taiwanese businesswoman, who previously held 75 percent of the company will lose control, becoming a minority shareholder with a stake of 20 percent. Lanvin declined to comment.
The reports follow news that Fosun and Mayhoola were competing for Lanvin, a label with a powerful brand DNA that has suffered from a crippling combination of a weak designer, shaky management team and a demoralised group of employees.
Following the exit of Elbaz, sales dropped sharply. In 2016, Lanvin’s revenues plummeted 23 percent to €162 million and the company posted its first loss in more than a decade. Sources say the losses widened in 2017 and the label has faced a serious cash shortage. Lanvin said in early November that Wang would put more money into the business by the end of 2017, but the cash injection never materialised.
The deal is a blow for Mayhoola, which has been courting Lanvin since 2008 and aims to build a group of luxury fashion brands. Its portfolio currently includes Valentino Fashion Group, Balmain, Anya Hindmarch and menswear brand Pal Zileri.
Fosun, which is controlled by billionaire Guo Guangchang and owns French tourism group Club Med, also recently entered into acquisition talks with Italian lingerie brand La Perla. The news comes as Chinese interest in European fashion labels has been on the rise: On Friday, Shandong Ruyi agreed to buy a controlling stake in Swiss luxury brand Bally.