PARIS – Christian Louboutin, a brand of high-priced stilettos known for their red soles of shoes, sold 24% of its shares to an investment firm controlled by the Italian Agnelli family, in a deal that valued the French company at 2.3 billion euros, the equivalent of $ 2.73 billion.
NV, controlled by industry heir Gianni Agnelli, will pay € 541 million for a stake in Christian Louboutin, the two companies said Monday. The brand is based in Paris and has 150 boutiques around the world.
The deal gave one of the most recognizable names in luxury footwear as capital to expand its operations, especially in China. For Exor, the investment is part of a drive to grow in luxury goods, said a spokesman. The company, led by John Elkann, the grandson of Mr. Agnelli, is also a controlling shareholder of a luxury sports car company.
NV. Exor’s largest shareholder is the automotive giant
NV, which owns Fiat and Peugeot among other brands.
French-Egyptian designer Christian Louboutin founded his eponymous brand in Paris in 1991 with a small salon. She quickly attracted celebrity customers for her stilettos which included actresses Sarah Jessica Parker and Gwyneth Paltrow.
This investment is the first time a public rating has been given to Christian Louboutin, showing it to be one of the largest high-end brands yet to be picked up by luxury conglomerates like LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton SE or
parents of Gucci. LVMH earlier this year sealed the biggest-ever deal in the luxury industry with hers $ 15.8 billion purchase from the American jewelery shop Tiffany & Co.
“I have admired Christian’s talent over the years in creating one of the world’s great independent global luxury brands,” said Mr. Elkann.
Christian Louboutin has grown over the years into other product categories from menswear to handbags. But the soul of the brand remains its red sole. As Christian Louboutin grew up, he had waged a legal battle to protect his trademark color from copycats. The US federal appeals court ruled in 2012 that the company was reserves the right to trademark protection for that color—Which the brand calls China Red – when used only in the sole. But the court rejected an attempt to block Yves Saint Laurent from selling the monochrome red shoes.
A European court ruled in 2018 that the color could be protected in the European Union. The decision led to a Dutch court ruling that the Van Haren shoemaker could not make red-soled shoes.
The investment came as Exor sought to use its expertise at Ferrari and Mr Elkann’s connections to expand luxury goods. In December, Exor and Hermès, a French luxury handbag company, jointly invested in Shang Xia, a Chinese luxury goods company. Exor invested € 80 million as part of the deal.
Write to Matthew Dalton at [email protected]
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