Jan 23, 2011
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Prada to discuss IPO option on Thursday-sources

Jan 23, 2011

MILAN, Jan 21 (Reuters) - The board of fashion house Prada will meet on Thursday next week to discuss a possible listing that could set a trend for other Italian luxury goods makers, sources close to the plan said.


The family-run company, known for its cutting-edge style and triangle logo, has said it is considering an initial public offering in Hong Kong this year, market conditions allowing.

If approved, the move would make Prada the first European fashion company to float on the Asian bourse, which accounted for about a fifth of global IPOs last year.

"The board will meet on Thursday. The project of an initial public offering is on the agenda," one of the sources said on Friday. A second source said the board meeting will take place.

Prada, which holds a fashion event in China this weekend, declined to comment.

The owner of Miu Miu, Church's and Car Shoe brands needs to raise cash to reduce debts of around 1 billion euros ($1.3 billion) and fund growth in Asia, where it expects sales to outpace those of Europe over the next three years.


Other Italian fashion names have been considering share floats, including Salvatore Ferragamo and the ski jacket maker Moncler.

Analysts estimate Prada could aim to raise 1.2 billion euros from the sale of a third of its shares in Hong Kong, the first ever Italian listing on the market, at a multiple of 10 times its projected 2010 core earnings.

Prada is 95 percent owned by the families of Chief Executive Patrizio Bertelli and his wife, the designer Miuccia Prada, with Italy's bank Intesa Sanpaolo (ISP.MI) owning the remaining 5 percent.

Prada expects record sales of 2 billion euros this year, mainly in Asia. Core earnings rose to 330 million euros in the nine months to end-October.

Prada says it has not yet hired advisers for an IPO, but media reports have cited Intesa Sanpaolo and UniCredit (CRDI.MI) as possible bookrunners. Goldman Sachs (GS.N) and brokerage firm CLSA, a division of Credit Agricole Securities, would also manage the operation, media reports have said.

Prada and its main shareholder Prada Holding BV have debts of around 1 billion euros, more than half in the 94 percent parent, partly a result of its acquisition spree in the 1990s when it bought brands Jil Sander, Helmut Lang and Azzedine Alaia, which it later sold.

The company, which closes its fiscal year on Jan. 31, approved a 2010 ordinary dividend of 31 million euros earlier this month.

Prada has delayed a flotation three times over the last decade. ($1=.7389 euros) (Reporting by Ian Simpson, Massimo Gaia, additional reporting by Antonella Ciancio, Kylie Maclellan in London, Michael Flaherty in Hong Kong; Editing by Jon Loades-Carter, Greg Mahlich)

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