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(Bloomberg) -- The Benettons are willing to consider the sale of their entire stake in World Duty Free SpA as the family evaluates several options for the airport retailer.
“We are open to everything,” Gilberto Benetton, head of the family investment company Edizione S.r.l., said when asked if the Benettons would consider selling their 50.1 percent stake in Novara, Italy-based World Duty Free.
World Duty Free shares rose to an 11-month high in Milan and was trading at 10.26 euros, up 4.6 percent, at 12:15 p.m., giving the company a market value of 2.61 billion euros ($2.95 billion). Benetton’s stake is worth 1.31 billion euros based on Tuesday’s market price.
Dufry AG is in talks to acquire World Duty Free as it seeks to expand its global presence, people familiar with the matter, who asked not to be identified because talks are private, said Feb. 20. Dufry is holding advanced discussions with the Benetton family, one of them said.
“For sure, we have been approached by several parties after we presented World Duty Free’s plan last month,” Benetton said Tuesday when asked if Dufry expressed its interest in the company. “We are looking around and we listen to everyone. In any case, if something happens, it won’t be in the short-term.” No formal offers have been made, he added.
While Dufry is viewed as the best fit, the process remains competitive and other bidders are still interested in buying the 50.1 percent stake held by the Benettons, the people said.
Other potential bidders include buyout firm KKR & Co. and French media group Lagardere SCA, people said in January. Lotte Group confirmed today it is reviewing offer for the company after MoneyToday said it submitted a bid.
World Duty Free Chief Executive Officer Eugenio Andrades said last month that the company is open to possible business combinations. Potential bidders started to look at the company’s financial data after World Duty Free presented its three-year strategy last month, the people said.
World Duty Free operates 495 stores in 19 countries and 98 airports across the world, according to its website. The Benetton family has held a controlling 50.1 percent stake since the company was spun off from Autogrill SpA and began trading independently in 2013.
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