Puma CEO Says Has No Plans To Take On Other Brands

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Shares in luxury conglomerate Kering rose to new record heights on Friday following news the group is set to spin off leading German sportswear brand Puma.

Under the plan, Paris-based Kering plans to spinoff 70 percent of Puma's outstanding shares, which would reduce Kering's stake to 16 percent from 86 percent.

The number of the brand's publicly traded shares will be increased to around 55%.

This deal comes following a recent strong turnaround by Puma, which has struggled for years following the purchase by Kering for €5.3 billion or $6.4 billion.

"The market is disappointed as it wanted an outright Puma sale", a trader said.

Puma is third in the worldwide sportswear market trailing leader Nike and runner up Adidas, but is focusing on the most popular sports in the world, like running, motorsport and above all soccer, and tapped into the booming women's sportswear market by appointing Rihanna in 2014 as its creative director.

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An upturn in the luxury goods industry, meanwhile, underpinned by a revival of Chinese demand, has boosted Kering's fashion brands, and analysts said many of these, including Balenciaga, had strong potential.

"We found ourselves in a sort of imbalance, linked to the outperformance of the luxury sector", Kering's finance chief Jean-Marc Duplaix told journalists, adding the group would also look at options to shed its remaining sportswear label, Volcom.

Gulden also expects "no change" for Puma's employees in daily operations and stressed the brand's positioning will continue to be "sports first" with further investments planned in sports endorsements.

Rothschild and boutique d'Angelin advised Kering on the deal, while JP Morgan advised Puma, sources familiar with the matter said. At the same time, the big push by Puma is to become quicker to market across many aspects of the business, and "it is obvious that if you are an independent company with a big free float and not part of a group, the decision making is even quicker because there's no group to talk to".

The transaction would increase PUMAs free float from now 14% to approximately 55%. This would lead to a greater free float of PUMA stocks, providing investors an enhanced possibility to invest in PUMA, and allowing the company to reaffirm its business strategy. Kering still owns lifestyle brand Volcomm, but has no plans to sell it. A stellar performance at Gucci has helped it catch up.

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