Kering holding company Artemis is interested in acquiring Farfetch shares

Kering has its sights set on the online luxury sector. The Pinault family's holding company Artemis, which controls 40.9% of the luxury group's capital and 55% of its voting rights, has shown interest in purchasing up to $50 million worth of Class A ordinary shares in Farfetch when it launches its IPO. The information came to light in a regulatory filing made by the British high-end fashion marketplace with the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). 


Artemis could soon take a stake in the British second-hand fashion platform - Farfetch

According to the filing, this statement of interest "is not a binding agreement or commitment to purchase". The document further clarifies that Artemis is at liberty to purchase "more, less or no Class A ordinary shares" in Farfetch's offering, just as the fashion platform can still "determine to sell more, less or no shares to Artemis."

Artemis did not respond when contacted by FashionNetwork.com, nor has the company released any further comments on the potential purchase. Kering has also remained silent on the subject. It does, however, seem more than evident that the move is motivated by a desire to gain ground in the battle currently raging over the luxury e-commerce market. 

The serious deals between the major fashion houses and the principal websites dealing in fashion and luxury goods began last year. In 2017, Chinese e-commerce giant JD.com spent 355 million euros to become Farfetch's majority shareholder, while, more recently, Chanel acquired a minority stake in the British online marketplace. The platform, which has specialised in offering personalised services to luxury consumers, has also entered into partnerships with a number of other big names in the industry, including Burberry and the Chalhoub Group. 

Also last year, Matchesfashion.com was purchased by Anglo-American private equity firm Apax Partners, owner of the Karl Lagerfeld brand, while LVMH launched its own shopping platform, 24 Sèvres. Elsewhere, Swiss luxury group Richemont, which previously held around half of the shares of Yoox Net-A-Porter (YNAP), recently secured over 98% of the company's capital to become its majority shareholder. 

In this context, Kering's desire to muscle in on the e-commerce market seems more than legitimate and, as in the past, the group appears to have chosen to entrust Artemis with the task of concluding a potential deal with Farfetch. 

Indeed, as well as Kering, Artemis also holds a number of other stakes in the fashion industry. The company acquired a minority stake in couture house Giambattista Valli in June 2017 and recently upped its stake in Courrègues to 40%, having been a minority shareholder in the brand since 2015. Acting through the holding company would therefore be a way for Kering to get in on the action without making a direct commitment. 

Translated by Robin Driver

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