Richemont bids for Italian online retailer YNAP

By BLOOMBERG

GENEVA • Richemont agreed to take full control of online luxury retailer Yoox Net-a-Porter SpA (YNAP) for about €2.7 billion (RM13.01 billion), reflecting ecommerce’s inroads into the world of US$5,000 (RM19,650) Cartier necklaces and US$50,000 Vacheron Constantin watches.

Investors would receive €38 a share, the Geneva-based luxury-goods company said yesterday in a statement.

That’s 26% higher than last Friday’s closing price. Richemont already owns 50% of YNAP.

The bid shows how Richemont is embracing Internet shopping, abandoning initial scepticism as big online sites and a crop of startups cater to the online luxury niche. Luxury companies are increasingly finding it necessary to change strategy to adapt as shoppers turn to Amazon.com Inc and other digital outlets for everything from cheap T-shirts to expensive timepieces. Swiss watchmaker Audemars Piguet last week said it plans to start a chain of standalone stores to buy and sell secondhand timepieces as the online vintage market takes off.

Shares of the Italian company rose as much as 26% in early trading in Milan, matching Richemont’s bid.

“There is a possibility of a counterbid to Richemont’s offer,” wrote Sherri Malek, an analyst at RBC Europe Ltd, saying YNAP could be attractive to Amazon.com, or that YNAP could tie up with Asos plc or Zalando SE.

Richemont is expanding a push into retail as it tries to sell more of its timepieces itself. Last year the company built a 7.5% stake in Dufry AG, the world’s largest duty-free retailer.