Italy’s billionaire Agnelli family agreed to buy a stake in French shoe and bag maker Christian Louboutin for 541 million euros ($640 million), expanding in the luxury industry.
The family’s Exor holding company said on Monday it’s acquiring a 24 percent stake and sees growth potential for the brand in China and in e-commerce. Exor will nominate two of Louboutin’s seven board members.
Under the leadership of John Elkann, the Agnelli family’s investment company has been diversifying its investments in recent years as the founders of Fiat Chrysler expand beyond the car industry. Linking up with Louboutin, known for its signature red-soled women’s shoes, follows Exor’s 80 million-euro investment in Chinese luxury brand Shang Xia.
Founded in 1991, Christian Louboutin has grown to operate 150 stores in 30 countries. Exor is stepping in as many shoe brands are suffering from the pandemic.
“Formal footwear brands are difficult, said Luca Solca, an analyst at Sanford C. Bernstein. “They are impacted by a secular casualization trend, of which sneakers are the epitome in the category, and they are difficult to expand into other product categories, as footwear’s average price is relatively low.”
The Agnelli family owns 53 percent of Exor through a separate holding company named after Fiat founder Giovanni Agnelli that includes dozens of his descendants as investors. It also controls sportscar maker Ferrari NV, Juventus Football Club SpA and reinsurance business PartnerRe, as well as a stake in Stellantis NV, formed by the merger of Fiat Chrysler with PSA Group.
The deal is expected to close in the second quarter of 2021.