Richemont Said to Hire Adviser to Sell Lancel Luxury Bags

Cie. Financiere Richemont SA has appointed an adviser to sell its luxury leather-goods brand Lancel, the maker of Brigitte Bardot handbags, according to two people familiar with the matter.

Richemont hired investment bank Nomura Holdings Inc. to help sell the brand, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the information is confidential. Lancel could be worth about 500 million euros ($668 million), according to one of the people.

Private-equity firms and strategic investors are interested in Lancel, the people said. Richemont’s controlling shareholder, Johann Rupert, said this year that the company should have been quicker to cull bad investments and the head of fashion and accessories quit the following week, fueling speculation Richemont may break up the division.

“The divestment of Lancel would be seen as a positive step as it would confirm that Richemont is willing to tackle their underperforming businesses,” Rene Weber, an analyst at Bank Vontobel, wrote in a note to investors. He estimates Lancel would be worth 200 million euros.

The stock rose 0.2 percent to 94.75 Swiss francs as of 10:09 a.m. in Zurich. The shares have gained 57 percent in the past year.

Richemont got control of the Paris-based brand when its Vendome unit bought it for 342 million francs ($375 million) in

1997. The biggest market for Lancel is France, where economy is forecast to barely expand for a second year in 2013 amid Europe’s financial woes.

Representatives of Richemont and Nomura declined to comment.

(Updates with analyst comment in fourth paragraph.)
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