Richemont subsidiary merges with Italian online retailer

Luxury goods group Richemont is set to merge its high-fashion retailer Net-a-Porter, with  online fashion retailer Yoox, in an all-share deal that will create an industry leader in the online luxury goods market.

Richemont, chaired by South Africa’s richest man, Johann Rupert,  will receive 50% of the combined entity, called Yoox Net-a-Porter Group, but its voting rights will be limited to 25%, effectively putting Yoox in charge of the newly merged business.

Yoox boss, founder and minority shareholder Federico Marchetti will become chief executive of the new group, while NAP founder Natalie Massenet will be executive chairman.

If Yoox shareholders approve the deal in June, the deal will become effective in September and the new group will launch a rights issue of around 200 million euros ($216 million) to fund growth, with Richemont expected to fund half the sum, a spokesman for the Swiss group said on Tuesday (31 March).

Richemont has committed to a lock-up period of three years in respect of shares equivalent to 25% of the total share capital of the combined entity.

Upon completion, Richemont will appoint two representatives to the combined company’s board of directors, which will have a minimum of twelve members.

Following completion, Yoox Net-A-Porter Group is expected to launch a capital increase of up to €200 million to fund future growth opportunities and allow for the entry of strategic investors.

Richemont is expected to participate in this capital increase.

“Established business models are being increasingly disrupted by the technological giants. It is with this in mind that we believe it is important to increase leadership and size to protect the uniqueness of the luxury industry.”

“The merger of the two leaders will further enhance an independent, neutral platform for a sophisticated clientele looking for luxury brands,” said Johann Rupert.

Net-a-Porter is a high-fashion retailer that operates via a website designed in the style of a magazine. The website attracts in excess of 2.5 million unique visits every month.

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Richemont subsidiary merges with Italian online retailer