Richemont hired investment bank Nomura to help sell the brand, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the information is confidential. Lancel could be worth about €500 million ($668 million).

Private-equity firms and strategic investors are interested in Lancel, the people said. Richemont’s controlling shareholder, Johann Rupert, said earlier this year that the company should have been quicker to cull bad investments and the head of fashion and accessories quit the following week, fueling speculation Richemont may break up the division.

“The divestment of Lancel would be seen as a positive step as it would confirm that Richemont is willing to tackle their underperforming businesses,” Rene Weber, an analyst at Bank Vontobel, wrote in a note to investors. He estimates Lancel would be worth €200 million.

Richemont got control of the Paris-based brand when its Vendome unit bought it for 342 million francs ($375 million) in 1997. The biggest market for Lancel is France, where economy is forecast to barely expand for a second year in 2013 amid Europe’s financial woes.

Representatives of Richemont and Nomura declined to comment.

Source: Bloomberg