Italy’s billionaire Agnelli family, whose holdings include a controlling stake in Ferrari, is taking a stake in the Christian Louboutin shoe brand.
The Agnellis’ firm Exor is paying $643 million for a 24-percent stake in Louboutin to grow its online business and help it expand into more markets including China, the companies said on Monday.
The Paris-based fashion brand’s famously red-soled stilettos — worn by the likes of Angelina Jolie, Eva Longoria and Lady Gaga — have been a staple for the Hollywood crowd since its founding 30 years ago.
Nevertheless, analysts note that makers of high-heel shoes have lately been slammed by the pandemic, which has accelerated a broader trend toward sneakers and other more casual looks.
The deal comes on the heels of another major footwear deal last week, in which a private-equity firm backed by French luxury powerhouse LVMH took a majority stake in Birkenstock — a more downmarket, comfort-focused shoe brand.
“Christian Louboutin’s extraordinary creativity, energy and unique vision are precisely the qualities needed to build a great company,” Exor chief executive, John Elkann said in a statement.
Exor will also nominate two directors to the designer’s board.
Louboutins became the favored stiletto of the glitterati after Princess Caroline of Monaco wore a pair in 1991. They became even more popular when they were prominently featured on HBO’s “Sex and the City” series. There are 150 boutiques in 30 countries around the world.
The Agnelli family also owns the Juventus Football Club, as well as a stake in Stellantis, the auto giant formed by the merger of Fiat Chrysler with PSA Group.