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Cavalli Staying Put If Label Gets Sold

It's buy one, get one free at the Roberto Cavalli sale.

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MILAN — It's buy one, get one free at the Roberto Cavalli sale.

In an interview with WWD, Cavalli said he's firmly part of the package, should he decide to sell his fashion label.

"Roberto Cavalli is me," the Italian designer said. "I have built it all my life. It's like my big baby and I'm its big daddy."

Six suitors, who last month tabled preliminary proposals for Roberto Cavalli, likely will be given access to the firm's financial data this week to begin due diligence, WWD learned.

These are said to be private equity firms Candover, The Carlyle Group, Cinven, CVC Capital Partners, Doughty Hanson and Texas Pacific Group.

Merrill Lynch, which is advising on the sale, distributed a formal memorandum to interested parties in April, valuing the company at 1.4 billion euros, or $2.18 billion at current exchange — some 14 times Cavalli's projected earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization for 2008, according to sources.

Cavalli said he was waiting to see "the potential and the quality" of the offers on the table, and that only "the best" would do. However, he remained indefinite about giving up a stake — something sure to frustrate the interested parties.

"I don't know yet if it will be a yes or not," Cavalli said. "I don't need money. I don't need a partner."

After losing out to Permira for Valentino last year, Carlyle is thought to be keen on Cavalli, as is Cinven, which has teamed up with Italian entrepreneur and department store mogul Maurizio Borletti, sources said.

Underscoring his motivation for putting his business up for sale, Cavalli told WWD he "would like to dedicate my time just to designing. Today, I have too many things to do." He added that he was looking for a business partner who could "think in [organizational terms] with fantasy, like I think about creation with fantasy. Together, it would be a perfect combination."

Despite due diligence usually taking around two months, sources speculated the suitors would have a tentative idea of whether or not to proceed with their bids inside four to five weeks. That said, Cavalli noted that he did not expect the sale to be wrapped up before the summer. The current economic climate worldwide also could delay, if not derail, any sale.
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