Gucci or Louis Vuitton may purchase Bulgari

Sshares in Bulgari, the long-established supplier of luxury watches, perfumes and jewellery to the rich and famous, jumped last week on takeover rumours.

The Italian company’s share price rose nearly 4% in one day with the market in Milan guessing that Gucci owner Pinault-Printemps Redoute may have been behind the sudden surge, or its French rival Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessy.

Bulgari and PPR declined to comment. There has long been speculation that PPR and LVMH were interested in Bulgari, but the controlling family has always insisted Bulgari is not for sale.

Bulgari chief executive Francesco Trapani recently put a E4bn valuation on the business and some analysts think PPR would be stretched to raise that amount, but not LVMH.

Bulgari has been setting the pace in Italian luxury products since it was founded in 1884. Paolo Bulgari, chairman, and his brother Nicolo, vice chairman, together own 52% of Bulgari, which they took public in 1995. They installed their nephew Trapani as chief executive in 1984. About 130 outlets worldwide notch up sales of almost $700m.

Bid rumours were further fuelled by a research note last week from Société Générale which urged the Bulgari family to consider accepting an offer if one came along. The analyst said Bulgari’s prospects as a brand would be greatly enhanced by joining forces with a big luxury group.

The Bulgari family reject the view that the company does not have enough resources to keep its brand competitive.

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