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(Bloomberg) -- Shandong Ruyi Group is emerging as the leading bidder for Bally International AG, the Swiss luxury brand known for its dress shoes and leather man bags, people with knowledge of the matter said.

The Chinese textile producer is in advanced negotiations with Bally’s owner and has been discussing a price of about $700 million, according to the people, who asked not to be identified as the information is confidential. Ruyi has pulled ahead of other suitors including Club Med owner Fosun International Ltd. and Chinese apparel maker Fujian Septwolves Industry Co., which had earlier expressed interest in the assets, the people said. 

They haven’t reached a final agreement on terms of a deal, and another buyer may still emerge, the people said.

Any deal would add to the $30.1 billion of overseas consumer acquisitions announced by Chinese companies over the past year, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. JAB Holding Co. said in April it was reviewing options for Bally to focus on its food and beverage business, which has grown into one of the largest operators of coffee chains through acquisitions of Keurig Green Mountain Inc., Krispy Kreme Doughnuts Inc., Caribou Coffee, Peet’s Coffee & Tea and Stumptown Coffee Roasters.

Lycra, Trenchcoats

A representative for JAB declined to talk. A representative for Ruyi declined to comment.

JAB in July reached a deal to buy Panera Bread Co. in a deal valuing the bakery-cafe chain at more than $7 billion including debt. The same month, it agreed to sell London-based shoemaker Jimmy Choo Plc to Michael Kors Holdings Ltd. for about 896 million pounds ($1.2 billion).

Ruyi agreed in November to buy a controlling stake in Trinity Ltd., the owner of British bespoke suit maker Gieves & Hawkes, for HK$2.22 billion ($284 million). The previous month, it said it will purchase the owner of Lycra, the form-fitting elastic material used in clothing from skinny jeans to yoga pants. In 2016, it acquired SMCP, whose fashion brands include Sandro, Maje and Claudie Pierlot, and agreed to buy British trenchcoat maker Aquascutum last year.

Founded in Schonenwerd, Switzerland, in 1851, Bally makes luxury leather shoes that range from loafers to fur-lined winter boots, as well as belts, bags, wallets and clothing. It was previously owned by U.S. buyout firm TPG, which agreed to sell the firm to JAB in 2008.

(Updates with industry deal volume in fourth paragraph.)

To contact the reporters on this story: Vinicy Chan in Hong Kong at vchan91@bloomberg.net, Ruth David in London at rdavid9@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Ben Scent at bscent@bloomberg.net, Dinesh Nair at dnair5@bloomberg.net, Paul Panckhurst

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.

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