The Bulgari family has sold almost 4.5 million shares in French luxury goods group LVMH less than a year after it became the conglomerate's second biggest family shareholder.
Brothers Paolo and Nicola Bulgari, the grandsons of Sotirio Bulgari, who founded the eponymous Italian jeweller, and their nephew Francesco Trapani together sold about a third of the family's LVMH stake, which it acquired after a share swap with the Paris-based group last year.
In a statement released on 6 February, the family said the sale, which was worth €588 million, was necessary to pay taxes and other costs.
A spokeswoman for Bulgari confirmed that the family sold 4.48 million shares or 0.88% of LVMH, which owns fashion brands such as Louis Vuitton, Dior and Fendi as well as champagne makers Veuve Cliquot and Dom Perignon.
Paolo and Nicola sold 0.37% and 0.47% of LVMH respectively, while Francesco sold an additional 0.04%.
The Italian family acquired a 3% stake in LVMH in March 2011 as part of the share swap, which saw the French group acquiring a controlling stake in Bulgari. The value of LVMH shares have since increased by 23%.
The swap also made the Bulgari family the second biggest family shareholder in LVMH, after the Arnault family, which controls 47% of the group through its holding company Groupe Arnault.
Bernard Arnault founded LVMH in 1987, using his family’s money to purchase Dior. In 2011, the company posted revenues of €23.7 billion, up 16% on 2010. Sales at the group's watches and jewellery division jumped 98%, from €985 million in 2010 to €1.9 billion in 2011, thanks in part to the acquisition of Bulgari.