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Roberto Cavalli’s Floundering Fashion House Acquired by Dubai-Based Property Group

Putting to rest months of bankruptcy rumors and speculation, the famed yet struggling house of Roberto Cavalli has been purchased by a Dubai-based property developer.

Roberto Cavalli SpA has inked a deal with Vision Investment Co. LCC, led by Hussain Sajwani, the founder of Damac Properties Group. For an undisclosed amount, Vision Investment has agreed to purchase a 100 percent stake in the brand, according to Harper’s Bazaar Arabia.

The Cavalli brand has been mulling bankruptcy for months. In March, the brand shuttered its U.S. subsidiary’s operations (under the corporate name ArtFashion Corp.) and laid off nearly 100 employees. The company filed a Chapter 7 liquidation case with a bankruptcy court in April, in order to put an end to operations.

On March 29, Cavalli announced that it was working with Italian courts to find a way to stay afloat while pursuing a new investor.

Private equity firm Clessidra bought a 90 percent stake in the brand in 2015, while the designer himself retained the remaining 10 percent. Since then, Cavalli has managed to weather falling sales and high executive turnover. One week before the brand filed for bankruptcy, Paul Surridge, Cavalli’s creative director, abandoned his post after two years leading design.

According to Harper’s Bazaar Arabia, Damac Properties Group and the Cavalli brand have a history, having partnered on a suite of luxury villas in a tony complex called Dubailand. Last October, Damac Properties announced that its Aykon Hotels would feature luxury interiors designed by Cavalli.

The deal has drawn comparisons to Versace selling a minority stake to private equity group Blackstone in 2014, which managed to revive the brand’s faltering sales with an influx of cash and a restructuring strategy. For a 20 percent stake, the brand received $287 million, while the Versace family was allowed to retain control of operations.

In September of 2018, it became clear that the move paid off. In a bid to compete with luxury fashion firms like Kering and LVMH, Michael Kors acquired Versace and announced a new name for its holding company, Capri Holdings Limited.