Fung Capital back in the running for 45% stake in Gaultier

Interparfums and Puig also interested in Hermès-owned stake

A rapidly changing situation has followed the announcement by Hermès that it has been approached to sell its stake of 45% in the cosmetics and fragrances group Jean-Paul Gaultier.

Initially, three candidates were reportedly competing to acquire a substantial interest in the group – the Spanish cosmetics and perfumes company Puig, which controls Paco Rabanne and Nina Ricci, the luxury products group Richemont and Fung Capital, the financial arm of the Fung family interests in China.

At one point only two serious candidates remained to acquire the Hermès stake – Puig and the French fragrances group Interparfums. A source told Reuters that Fung Capital was no longer interested. However, the current position is that Fung is back in the running as a partner of the Japanese cosmetics major Shiseido. A Gaultier source has said that the Paris-based affiliate of Shiseido – Beaute Prestige International (BPI) – is to retain its licence over the marketing of Jean-Paul Gaultier perfumes and that talks are underway between BPI, Fung and Gaultier.

Meanwhile, it is estimated that Interparfums, which produces the Van Cleef & Arpels, Lanvin, Paul Smith, S T Dupont and Burberry perfumes under licence, now has a treasure chest of about €46m available for acquisitions.

Puig, thought to remain one of the favourite contenders, produces the Prada, Comme des Garçons and Adolfo Dominguez perfumes but also manufactures under licence for the Zara group. Revenues dipped 5% in 2009 to €984m but operating profits rose 18% to €97m.

The balance of Gaultier’s capital – 55% – is held by the investment bank Aforge. Gaultier is understood to need an investor prepared to finance its international development, especially in the Asian marketplace.