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MARK AUSTIN THOMAS: The German sportswear maker Puma has welcomed a multi-billion dollar takeover offer from the French luxury group PPR. From the European Desk, Stephen Beard reports.


STEPHEN BEARD: PPR, whose brands include Gucci and Yves Saint Laurent, has bought a 27 percent stake in Puma and it's offered to buy the rest of the company for $7.1 billion.

Puma is practically purring with delight.

The German company describes PPR as the perfect partner. Justin Urquart-Stewart of Seven Investment agrees that the two companies should work well together.

JUSTIN URQUART-STEWART: You take the combination of Puma which is very well-known obviously for its sportwear and its shoes but then add the style of the luxury goods brand management that PPR is so good at and actually you're dealing with a very logical fit.

The link between fashion and sportswear is well-established in the West, but says Urquart-Stewart, the real growth market is China, where he reckons the demand for trendy sportswear will boom in the run-up to the Beijing Olympics in 2008.

In London, this is Stephen Beard for Marketplace.