Christian Louboutin Sells 24% Stake to Italy's Agnelli Family
By Matthew Dalton
PARIS -- Christian Louboutin, the high-price stiletto brand
known for its red soles, is selling a 24% stake to the investment
firm controlled by Italy's Agnelli family, in a deal that values
the French company at EUR2.3 billion, equivalent to $2.73
Exor NV, controlled by the heirs of industrial magnate Gianni
Agnelli, will pay EUR541 million for the stake in Christian
Louboutin, the two companies said Monday. The brand is based in
Paris and has 150 boutiques around the world.
The deal gives one of the most recognized names in luxury
footwear an infusion of capital to expand its operations,
particularly in China. For Exor, the investment is part of a push
to grow in luxury goods, a spokesman said. The investment firm, led
by John Elkann, a grandson of Mr. Agnelli, is also the controlling
shareholder of luxury sports car company Ferrari NV. Exor's biggest
holding is auto giant Stellantis NV, which owns Fiat and Peugeot
among other brands.
Christian Louboutin founded his eponymous brand in Paris in 1991
with a small salon. The Franco-Egyptian designer quickly attracted
a roster of celebrity clientele for his stilettos, including Sarah
Jessica Parker and Gwyneth Paltrow.
The investment is the first time a public valuation has been
attached to Christian Louboutin, showing it is as one of the
biggest high-end brands that has yet to be scooped up by luxury
conglomerates such as LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton SE or Kering
SA, the parent of Gucci. LVMH earlier this year sealed the biggest
deal ever in the luxury industry with its $15.8 billion purchase of
American jeweler Tiffany & Co.
"I have admired over the years Christian's talent in creating
one of the world's great, independent global luxury brands," Mr.
Christian Louboutin over the years has expanded into a number of
other product categories, from menswear to handbags.
But the soul of Christian Louboutin remains the red sole. As
Christian Louboutin has grown, the brand has waged legal battles to
protect its distinctive color from imitators. A U.S. federal
appeals court in 2012 ruled that Christian Louboutin was entitled
to trademark protection for the color -- which the brand calls
China Red -- if it is used just on the sole. But the court rejected
an effort to block Yves Saint Laurent from selling a monochrome red
The European Court of Justice ruled in 2018 ruled that the color
could be protected in the European Union. That decision led to a
Dutch court ruling that the shoemaker Van Haren couldn't make a
The investment comes as Exor has sought to use its expertise in
Ferrari and Mr. Elkann's connections to expand in luxury goods. In
December, Exor and Hermès, the French luxury handbag company,
jointly invested in Shang Xia, a Chinese luxury goods company. Exor
invested EUR80 million as part of the deal.
Write to Matthew Dalton at Matthew.Dalton@wsj.com
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
March 08, 2021 14:25 ET (19:25 GMT)
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