Della Valle Ups Stake in Saks Inc.

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Diego Della Valle

Sant’elpidio A Mare, Italy—Italian businessman  Diego Della Valle, who owns Tod’s footwear and accessories, continued to build up his ownership in Saks Inc, raising his stake to 11.12% from 9.4% in the department store chain.

According to Securities and Exchange Commission filings released today, Della Valle paid $29.4 million to buy 2.9 million shares between October 12 and Monday.

The move more than doubles his stake in the company from earlier this year. In the spring, Della Valle paid $30.2 million to raise his ownership to 9.4% from 5.3%.

Della Valle, ceo of Tod’s SpA, a Saks Fifth Avenue vendor, also owns the Fiorentina soccer club. Since 2009, he has been amassing holdings in Saks Inc., making him the second-largest shareholder, behind the Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim Helu who owns nearly 16%.

Saks Inc. has been the target of takeover rumors in the past. Most recently in late August British newspapers reported that “a private equity consortium, comprising both U.S. and U.K. players, has for months been stalking Saks Inc… Due diligence is said to be almost complete and a cash bid of $1.7 billion (1.1billion pounds), or $11 a share, could be tabled soon.”

Shares of Saks  booked a new 52-week high today by trading above $10.65 at press time prior to the stock market closing this afternoon.

‘Enormous Potential’

Della Valle said last week he became interested in the retailer on his first visit to the United States as a youth, when he stopped in at a Saks Fifth Avenue store—where his father sold high-end foot—and was “overwhelmed by the size of the store and by the amount of people shopping.” He added he views Saks as having “enormous potential for growth with an excellent management in place.”

Additional reports found that the Saks investment comes from Della Valle’s own private financing and is not linked to Tod’s. Though he refused to say if he is pursuing a takeover, he bought the shares when “they were a bargain” and has said he has no plans to sell.