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Dubai retailer to take over Ferre fashion house-source

Sale to be completed by end-February -source.

February 9, 2011 10:40 by

Dubai-based high-end clothing retailer Paris Group is set to buy distressed Italian fashion house Gianfranco Ferre, a source with knowledge of the situation said on Tuesday.

Founded in 1978 by late Italian designer Gianfranco Ferre, the debt-laden maison, one of Milan’s top designer names, became one of the casualties of the financial crisis in 2009 which sapped demand for luxury goods.

Known for its “architectural” style and overstated elegance, Ferre has been put on sale by special commissioners after being admitted to bankruptcy protection in 2009.

On Monday, the commissioners approved an improved offer from Paris Group, a leading distributor in the Middle East of high-end brands such as Versace, Cerruti and Hugo Boss .

Paris Group plans to invest an initial 25 million euros ($34.13 million) to pay down debts and open 50 top line Ferre stores worldwide, the source said. It also agreed to raise its initial offer and keep a higher number of jobs.

U.S. private equity fund Prodos Capital Management missed a deadline in December to buy the fashion house after failing to fulfill a commercial condition.

Parent company IT Holding , which is also under extraordinary administration, was not available to comment.

Ferre is one of the few big Italian fashion names to fall into foreign hands in a mainly family-run industry.

Past cases include French group PPR’s  Gucci and Italian fashion brand Valentino, which is controlled by private equity group Permira . (Writing by Antonella Ciancio; Editing by Hans Peters)

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