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LVMH-backed fund buys majority stake in Birkenstock

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BERLIN, Feb 26 (Reuters) – Birkenstock has agreed to sell a majority stake to LVMH-backed private equity firm L Catterton, it said on Friday, in a deal that brings the maker of comfy, blocky sandals in the orbit of the French luxury powerhouse.

The family-owned German company did not disclose financial details of a deal it said would help it to grow in China and India as well as expand its online business.

Sources close to the matter said the transaction values the company at about 4 billion euros ($4.85 billion).

Financiere Agache, the family office of French billionaire and LVMH boss Bernard Arnault, is also taking part in the purchase alongside L Catterton, the previous investments of which include Pepe Jeans, online retailer Everlane and workout gear brand Sweaty Betty.

“Birkenstock was founded nearly 250 years ago and has grown to become one of the few iconic brands in the footwear industry. We truly appreciate brands with this long heritage,” Arnault said in a statement.

Birkenstock, which traces its roots to 1774 and sells sandals in 100 countries, said it had a “record year” in 2020 despite the COVID-19 pandemic and is expanding production capacity in Germany. The company, which has yet to publish 2020 results, had revenue of 721.5 million euros in the year to Sept 30, 2019.

L Catterton was created in 2016 as a joint venture between consumer-foused private equity firm Catterton, LVMH and Groupe Arnault, Arnault’s family holding company. It now manages 23 billion dollars in assets.

Louis Vuitton and Christian Dior owner LVMH, the world’s biggest luxury goods group, has been courting younger customers through collaborations with streetwear labels and tie-ups with celebrities.

The maker of Moet Hennessy this week bought a 50% stake in rap star Jay-Z’s Armand de Brignac champagne brand, and though LVMH last month put its Fenty fashion venture with pop star Rihanna on hold, L Catterton took a stake in the R&B singer’s lingerie line. ($1 = 0.8247 euros) (Reporting by Silvia Aloisi, Riham Alkousaa and Christina Amann Editing by David Goodman)

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