Permira takes control of Italian luxury suppliers hub Florence

Bulgari Chief Executive Francesco Trapani attends the Reuters Global Luxury Summit in Paris

MILAN (Reuters) - Investment firm Permira has acquired the majority of Gruppo Florence, in a deal which a source close to the matter said valued the hub of Italian luxury clothing and leather goods manufacturers at more than 1 billion euros ($1.1 billion).

The deal announced on Thursday highlights a trend among private equity funds, which after running out of big brands to buy, have locked on to the challenges of the luxury industry's supply chain and turned to a "buy and build" strategy.

Florence was founded in 2020 by VAM Investments, a private equity firm controlled by former Bulgari Chief Executive Francesco Trapani, who will stay on as Florence chairman.

Its current CEO Attila Kiss will also retain his role.

With revenues of more than 600 million euros in 2022, Florence groups 26 companies which it acquired over time from owners who reinvested part of the proceeds from the sale of their businesses into the hub.

The companies design and manufacture clothing, shoes and other accessories for top luxury names.

VAM Investments, the businessmen who are minority shareholders in Florence and its management will all reinvest part of the proceeds of the sale into the group, keeping a significant stake, Florence said in a statement.

Fondo Italiano d'Investimento, a fund controlled by state investor CDP Equity, will also retain a minority holding in Florence, while investment holding Italmobiliare will liquidate its stake with a 78 million euro gain.

"To have contributed to create the biggest platform for the luxury supply chain in Italy has been a privilege, as well as a stimulating challenge," VAM Investments CEO Marco Piana said.

The transaction is expected to close in the fourth quarter.

BoFA Securities and Citigroup advised the sellers, while JPMorgan worked with Permira. UniCredit was the financial adviser to VAM's reinvestment process.

($1 = 0.9084 euros)

(Reporting by Valentina Za, editing by Gavin Jones)