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Jun 29, 2009
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Fashion legend Pierre Cardin 'to sell everything'

By
AFP
Published
Jun 29, 2009

PARIS, June 29, 2009 (AFP) - Days before turning 87, French fashion legend Pierre Cardin is stripping off a large part of his China empire and told AFP he was "going to sell everything I own."

Pierre Cardin
Pierre Cardin - Photo: AFP/File/Anne-Christine Poujoulat

"It's a question of age," said the designer, who turns 87 on July 2.

Cardin said in a telephone interview that a deal would be signed "imminently" on the sale of his fashion (men, women, children) and accessories (belts and baggage) licences in China to two Chinese enterprises for 200 million euros (280 million dollars).

A Cardin spokesman identified the two firms as Jiangsheng Trading Company and Cardanro. He said Pierre Cardin currently has licences in 140 countries.

An astute businessman as well as a groundbreaking designer, Cardin invested in China as far back as 1978, one of the first foreigners to try the market.

The 32 licences due to be sold after two months of negotiations, he said, did not include Maxim's food and restaurant interests and was not a wholesale sell-off of his brand.

Earlier on Monday 29 June, the group had denied a Chinese media report that it was preparing to sell off the overall brand.

"This is not about the sale of the Pierre Cardin group," a spokesman told AFP. "The couturier is in talks with Chinese companies only on the sale of certain licences in China, as it was in the past for Japan for example."

A newspaper in southern China, the Shenzhen Commercial Daily, had reported on Monday 29 June that the Jiansheng Trading Company in Guangdong province had offered 200 million euros (280 million dollars) to buy the brand and hoped to tie up a deal within a month.

The couturier, who said he has 500 to 600 licences worldwide, recalled that he had sold off licences in Japan some 15 years ago.

The turnover of the Pierre Cardin empire is estimated at six billion euros but several branches are in the red, according to French papers -- restaurants, press, theatre.

"I don't have to sell, it's a question of age," he said. "I'm going to sell Maxim's, I'm going to sell Maxim's textile, I'm going to sell everything I own."

"Given that China offered to buy the brand, I'm starting with China."

Cardin, who set up his couture house in 1949, said that if anyone wanted to buy the overall brand, excluding perfumes, it would cost "a billion euros.

In 2008, Pierre Cardin was ranked 71st with an estimated wealth of 500 million euros in a list of France's wealthiest people released by Challenges magazine.by Dominique Schroeder

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