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Tommy Hilfiger owners moot sale or flotation

Tommy Hilfiger’s majority investor Apax Partners is considering a sale of its stake in the menswear label while at the same time revisiting the idea of an IPO, according to reports.

Private equity firm Apax, which bought an 80% stake in Tommy Hilfiger four years ago, is understood to be talking to potential buyers and is also mooting a public offer for the brand.

An IPO for Hilfiger was last proposed in 2007 on the Euronext stock exchange - the Paris-based pan-European stock exchange - and then dropped in early 2008 when global stock markets were hit by the recession.

The leader in the race to acquire Hilfiger is thought to be Phillips-Van Heusen (PVH), which already owns Calvin Klein and produces Hilfiger dress shirts and ties under licence. PVH has been openly seeking further acquisitions in recent months.

Tommy Hilfiger, which closed New York Fashion Week on February 18, has 950 stores globally, half of which it owns and operates, and had a turnover of €1.6bn (£1.4bn) for the year to March 31 2009.

Analysts are questioning where Apax would chose to float Tommy Hilfiger if it did pursue an IPO. The environment for IPOs in London has proved volatile. On February 12, fast-fashion chain New Look, which is also owned by Apax and fellow private equity house Permira, postponed its flotation just 10 days after confirming its intention to list.

Meanwhile, young fashion business SuperGroup, owner of the Superdry brand and Cult retail chain, said yesterday that it would continue with its IPO and expected to close its bookbuilding imminently with the offer likely to be oversubscribed.

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