April 5, 2010, 12:00 AM

Global luxury brand group Richemont to buy Net-a-Porter

Swiss luxury goods maker Compagnie Financière Richemont SA, which owns such high-end brands as Cartier, Dunhill, IWC, Piaget and Van Cleef & Arpels, is buying web-only, women’s fashion retailer Net-a-Porter from a group of private shareholders.

Swiss luxury goods maker Compagnie Financière Richemont SA, which owns 33% of the 10-year-old, web-only, women’s fashion retailer Net-a-Porter LLC, is buying the remainder of the company.

Richemont says it has already received firm acceptances for its offer to buy outstanding shares in Net-a-Porter from owners of stock representing more than 80% of the company’s voting rights. The company says it will buy the remaining shares in due course. The total valuation given by Richemont, equivalent to 350 million British pounds or $534.48 million, amounts to nearly three times the web site’s annual sales last year of about 120 million pounds, or $183.5 million.

Richemont says it intends to make Net-a-Porter one if its “hallmark maisons,” alongside brands such as Cartier, Dunhill, IWC, Piaget and Van Cleef & Arpels.

Natalie Massenet, the company’s founder, is buying a stake in the Richemont unit that is purchasing Net-a-Porter and will remain executive chairman of the business, the company says.

Net-a-Porter has adopted the style of a chic fashion magazine to sell collections from more than 300 well-known designers, selling to customers in more than 170 countries, the company says. It offers some 300 brands including Jimmy Choo, Stella McCartney and Givenchy, delivering clothes and accessories from an 18 euro ($24.31) triple-pack of socks up to a 16,600-euro handbag ($22,419.96).

“Richemont has completely embraced our vision and strategy since they came on board as a shareholder and together we are going to continue to build the 21st-century model for luxury fashion retailing,” Massenet says.

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