Private equity firm Apax Partners has put its planned IPO for Tommy Hilfiger on hold, blaming "volatile market conditions".

Apax, which paid US$1.6bn for an 80% stake in the fashion company in early 2006, had been widely rumoured to be planning an IPO on Amsterdam's Euronext exchange early in 2008.

Analysts had placed an overall value on the company of up to EUR3bn (US$4.4bn).

Neither Apax nor Tommy Hilfiger confirmed those reports, but today (24 January) the companies issued a joint statement confirming the postponement of the IPO.

"An initial public offering has always been recognised as a logical step in the development of the company," they said.

"With the global corporate headquarters now located in Amsterdam, the company has explored Amsterdam as the location for a possible IPO over the past few months.

"Investor feedback has been positive; however, considering recent volatile market conditions, management and shareholders decided to postpone an IPO process until such time that market conditions have stabilised, in the interest of the company. For now it is business as usual."

Since taking over Tommy Hilfiger at a time of falling sales, Apax has reorganised the business, moving its headquarters to Amsterdam. The companies denied that it had been unduly affected by the recent economic downturn.

"Tommy Hilfiger is a very strong business and has been performing well in all geographical markets and product divisions over the past two years, including during recent months of economic uncertainty," they said.

"The entire management team and Tommy Hilfiger employees have done an outstanding job to position the company for healthy and continued long-term growth."