Jan 20, 2010
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Richemont makes offer for Rodenstock

Jan 20, 2010

By Alexander Huebner

FRANKFURT/ZURICH, Jan 19 (Reuters) - Luxury goods maker Richemont (CFR.VX) has made an offer for Rodenstock [BRICAR.UL], with the intention of getting a majority stake, two people familiar with the matter said on Tuesday 19 January.

Watches from Vacheron Constantin, a Richemont timepiece brand

Banks are demanding fresh equity Rodenstock as the Munich-based eyeglass-frames maker seeks to renegotiate its debt, the sources said.

Richemont, the Swiss group behind Cartier watches and Chloe handbags, was not immediately available for comment. It had declined to comment earlier on Tuesday 19 January on a report from Germany's Financial Times Deutschland (FTD), which said it was in talks with Rodenstock.

Rodenstock, which had sales of 380 million euros last year, and its majority owner Bridgepoint [BRDG.UL] also declined to comment. Rumours that Richemont, which has more than 1 billion euros ($1.43 billion) in net cash, is on the prowl for an acquisition have repeatedly surfaced of late.

Earlier this month, the New York Post newspaper said Richemont, the world's second-largest luxury group, was interested in a stake in Italian fashion house Prada. Prada denied the report.

Vontobel analyst Rene Weber said the German glasses-maker did not fit in with the Swiss company's portfolio.

"I don't no where that idea (of an offer) comes from," Weber said. "It doesn't seem to make a lot of sense because it's (Rodenstock) a totally different business."

"It's an area that has nothing to do with luxury goods and would be totally new for Richemont," he said.

Shares in Richemont, which posted forecast-beating third-quarter earnings earlier this week, were 1.2 percent higher at 38.09 Swiss francs a share by 1556 GMT, compared with 0.94 percent rise in the Dow Jones personal and household goods index .SXQP ($1=.6990 Euro) (Additional reporting Catherine Bosley; editing by Karen Foster)

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