Confirming a definitive agreement for the takeover of the Bruno Magli brand and related intellectual property assets through Marquee Brands, a sponsored fund created last September as a vehicle for new acquisitions, the Neuberger Berman Group said that the Italian brand will move its head office from Italy to New York. However, its core footwear and leather products will continue to be designed in Bologna and made in Italy, it added, indicating that Marquee Brands will look at other sources of production elsewhere for other products.
After closing its factory in Bologna, Bruno Magli had operated out of Bologna and Milan under its previous owners. Reports in the Italian press indicate that Bruno Magli will keep a dozen employees in Bologna for design and product development, operating out of a new office, but the staff may be boosted through the planned inauguration of a Bruno Magli shoe museum, sponsored by the municipality.
Marquee Brands apparently offered €28.5 million in the auction for Bruno Magli's assets, in competition with other candidates. The amount will cover debts estimated at around €20 million. The surplus will be reinvested to re-launch the brand in Italy and other markets, especially in Japan. The brand already has a strong presence in the U.S., where it recently hired a new distributor.
Bruno Magli will end up under the management of experienced professionals. In creating Marquee Brands last September, Neuberger Berman appointed Michael DeVirgilio as its president and Cory M. Baker as its chief operating officer. DeVirgilio spent the last 17 years at Kenneth Cole Productions, serving since 2009 as president of its licensing and international operations.
Baker, who started his career as an intellectual property attorney, worked for several companies including the Iconix Brand Group, where he was involved in closing more than $1 billion worth of acquisitions and joint ventures. It would not be surprising to see the venerable Bruno Magli developed through licensing deals in certain countries and certain sectors.