Opera, Texas Pacific in shoe showdown

A lawsuit filed by shoemaker Bruno Magli is indirectly pitting the Bulgari-backed private equity fund Opera against global private equity firm Texas Pacific Group.

Luxury shoemaker Bruno Magli filed a lawsuit in the Supreme Court of the State of New York Tuesday against a former executive, an action that finds two private equity firms at odds with one another.

Bruno Magli, which is owned by Opera, issued a press release Tuesday publicising complaints the company is filing against a former senior vice president for taking a job with Texas Pacific Group-owned shoe and fashion company Bally North America.

Bulgari’s Opera private equity fund, which focuses on investing in Italian luxury goods companies, bought Bruno Magli in 2001. Texas Pacific bought Bally in 1999. 

The statement said executive Scott Prentice violated the “employment contract by accepting employment at a direct competitor of Bruno Magli”. The release goes on to say Prentice is now working for Bally.

Aaron Schwartz, the president of BM USA, questioned Prentice’s judgment in the release: “Frankly speaking, Scotts’ departure will not affect the tremendous momentum we have gained over the last year, but we at Bruno Magli will take all steps necessary to protect our brand. We are also surprised that Mr. Prentice would choose to leave the company at this time”. 

Schwartz said that Bruno Magli’s restructuring is complete and “business is growing”.
According to reports, Prentice was the vice president of Bruno Magli’s men’s division and promoted to senior vice president in 2004. The executive restructuring came as Bruno Magli sought Chapter 11 protection.