By Svetlana Kovalyova
VICENZA, Italy (Reuters) - Jewelry company Richline International, part of billionaire investor Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway <BRKa.N>, will buy its fifth small Italian jewelry brand as it plans to expand further in Italy.
Italy-based Richline International, fully owned by Berkshire's unit Richline Group, said in a statement it has signed a letter of intent to buy the production, design, intellectual property and distribution rights of Carniani.
It did not disclose financial details of the deal.
Lucio Carniani, who would continue to run his gold and silver jewelry maker, told Reuters his company revenues came in at 4 million euros ($5.63 million) last year.
Earlier this year, U.S. jewelry manufacturer and distributor Richline Group, has bought four privately held Italian jewelry brands: children's jewelry maker Erz, earrings and bracelets maker Farinex, 7AR and Zeno, fuelling expectations that other deals could be in the pipeline.
Richline is looking for other acquisitions on the Italian jewelry market after the Carniani deal, Dennis Ulrich, chief executive officer of Richline Group, told Reuters.
"We are looking to expand ... We always have ongoing conversations (about possible acquisitions) ... A bigger acquisition is not excluded," Ulrich said in an interview at an international jewelry trade fair.
Richline could be interested in small artisanal jewelry makers and in industrial companies as long as they produce high quality creative products, Ulrich said.
Italian jewelry highly fragmented manufacturing sector, made up mostly of small family-owned companies, has been hit hard by the 2008/2009 financial crisis and many companies need cash injections to keep going.
Richline Group, which was formed in 2007 and includes such brands as Andin, Alarama, Aurafin, Auragem and Bel-Oro (http://www.richlinegroup.com), made $500 million in sales last year, Ulrich said.
With buying Italian companies and setting up Richline International as a hub for further expansion, Richline Group goes beyond its traditional North American markets to boost sales in Italy, France, Germany, Britain, Scandinavia and reach as far as Australia and Hong Kong, he said.
Carniani is expected to double its sales within a year while the whole Richline International is seen boosting its business by 50 percent over the period thanks to organic growth and new acquisitions, Ulrich said.
Richline does not plan acquisitions of jewelry makers in Asia for now but aims to establish commercial relations there, he said.
(Reporting by Svetlana Kovalyova; Editing by Toby Chopra)