Monday, Feb. 09, 2004

Karine Ohana

Ever wonder how Emanuel Ungaro became part of Ferragamo, or the swimwear company Eres became part of Chanel, or Nina Ricci became part of Puig? Just ask Karine Ohana, the mastermind behind these deals.

Ohana is a managing partner in Paris-based Ohana & Co., a boutique mergers-and-acquisitions firm founded by her younger brother Ariel. Karine joined in 1998 after 10 years in corporate banking with France's Société Générale, where she had her own M&A practice in luxury goods.

Ohana, who divides her time between Paris and New York City, recently began eyeing beauty and lingerie firms as targets for acquisition because she feels, these days, "people are more interested in well-being than appearances." Plus, many of the luxury groups that built their portfolios in the late '90s are either spinning off or consolidating purchases, or still struggling to achieve successful turnarounds. What can Ohana do that a big bank can't? "Banks are either friends with or enemies of big groups," she says. "We provide tailored service."