Richemont Says Net-a-Porter Not for Sale Amid Yoox Talk

Cie. Financiere Richemont SA, the world’s largest jewelry maker, said Net-a-Porter isn’t for sale amid speculation that the online clothes retailer may be bought.

“Richemont has a long-standing policy of not commenting on market rumors,” the Geneva-based company said today in a statement. “Exceptionally in this case, Richemont wishes to make it clear that The Net-A-Porter Group is not for sale.”

Yoox SpA held talks with Richemont about a merger with Net-a-Porter, though discussions have stalled, Il Sole 24 Ore reported yesterday, without saying where it got the information. Yoox Chief Executive Officer Federico Marchetti said in a subsequent interview with Bloomberg News that the Web-based retailer isn’t in talks currently to buy Net-a-Porter.

“There are no talks underway with Richemont,” Marchetti said in the interview. Asked whether there had been discussions between the companies about Net-a-Porter, he said: “We wouldn’t be doing our job if we didn’t look at certain acquisitions in a selective manner and we will continue to do so.”

Yoox, based in the Italian city of Bologna, has a dedicated team to evaluate investment opportunities that could help maintain the company’s leadership position in luxury e-commerce and create industrial synergies, Marchetti said.

Richemont fueled speculation in May that it could break up its fashion and leather-goods unit after Chairman Johann Rupert said the company should have been quicker to cull bad investments and the division’s head left. Richemont has appointed Nomura Holdings Inc. to sell handbag maker Lancel, two people familiar with the situation said last month.

Richemont acquired the two-thirds of Net-a-Porter that it didn’t own in 2010 in a deal valuing the retailer at 350 million pounds ($559 million). Net-a-Porter, founded by former fashion journalist Natalie Massenet in 2000, reported a loss of 19 million euros ($25.7 million) in the 12 months through March.

Richemont said today that it has no further comment.

Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal.