Gucci to pay $1bn for YSL clothes and scent

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GUCCI GROUP, one of Italy's best-known fashion companies, agreed yesterday to acquire Sanofi Beaute, the company that owns Yves Saint Laurent, for $1bn (pounds 617m).

But Artemis, the holding company owned by Francois Pinault and which acquired Sanofi for Fr6bn (pounds 605m) earlier this year with the intention of selling it to Gucci, will retain the Yves Saint Laurent haute couture business. Mr Pinault wanted haute couture to be excluded from the deal "in order to permit Mr Saint Laurent, the greatest French fashion designer, to pursue his creative activity".

Gucci will pay Fr4.4bn in cash and will assume Fr1.7bn in debt for Yves Saint Laurent's ready-to-wear fashions and several perfume brands, including Opium. The transaction will make Gucci the world's third largest luxury goods company.

Separately yesterday, LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton, the world's biggest luxury goods company, acquired Zenith International, the Swiss watch manufacturer, for an undisclosed sum.

Gijsbert Groenewegen, an analyst at The Europe Company, said the recent wave of consolidation in the luxury goods sector looks set to continue. Possible takeover targets include the designer houses Armani and Chanel.