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Prada Selling Fendi Shares to LVMH

November 24, 2001 GMT

MILAN, Italy (AP) _ Italian fashion house Prada agreed Saturday to sell its stake in Fendi to the French luxury goods concern LVMH, Prada officials said.

The $265 million deal, which gives LVMH a controlling stake in Fendi, was sealed about 4 a.m., said Cristina Fossati of Image Building, which handles publicity for Prada.

LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton SA and Prada each bought a 25.5 percent stake in Fendi two years ago, so the deal gives LVMH a 51 percent share in the Italian maker of handbags, furs and other fashion items.

``We made this decision with LVMH in the spirit of collaboration,″ Prada chief executive Patrizio Bertelli said in a statement. He said proceeds from the sale would be used to develop brands it owns or controls as a majority shareholder.

Prada gained fame in the past decade with its minimalist fashions, but a spree of acquisitions began to weigh heavily on the company’s ledgers.

Fendi was long run by five sisters whose parents founded the company in 1925 as a small leather-goods business. Its wallets, handbags and furs became fashionable in the last few decades. The Fendi family will retain 49 percent of the company.

Prada said that in the last 18 months, the number of directly held Fendi stores worldwide had soared from four to 83.

``This transaction is a very positive and strategic step and an excellent opportunity for LVMH,″ Yves Carcelle, head of LVMH’s fashion and leather goods division, said in a statement in Paris.

LVMH encompasses Louis Vuitton, the luggage and accessory-maker, and some major French champagne producers.