Three private equity firms are understood to be vying for a minority stake in Italian fashion house Versace.

Blackstone, CCMP Capital, and Bahrain's Investcorp are said to be nearing a deal for a 20% share in the luxury retailer, valuing it at around US$1.5bn, according to Sky News.

If successful, previous front-runner, Italy's state-owned private equity fund Fondo Strategico Italiano, would no longer be in the running, the publication noted.

New York firm Blackstone declined to comment on the reports, as did Investcorp. CMP Capital did not return a request for comment.

Although no timescale has been set for a potential deal, a new round of bidding is expected before the end of the year, with a decision set to be finalised during the first quarter of 2014.

At present, Versace's largest shareholder is Allegra, Gianni's niece, with a 50% stake, according to Sky News. His brother Santo owns a 30% stake, while sister Donatella has 20%.

In 2012, the company saw its revenues climb 20% to $552.8m. It was also understood to have been considering an IPO early last year.