By  on October 8, 2012

MILAN — The Della Valles may be about to add to their fortune.Marcolin SpA — in which Tod’s chief Diego Della Valle and his brother Andrea hold a 40.6 percent stake — said Monday it is negotiating a potential sale of a majority shareholding to private equity firm Pai Partners. The discussions are in an “advanced, but not yet defined, stage,” the Italian eyewear maker said. The deal could be worth about 300 million euros, or $391 million at current exchange.The development sent Marcolin shares up 6.7 percent on the Milan Stock Exchange Monday to 4.85 euros, or $6.32.Sources in Milan said if a deal does take place, Pai would launch a takeover bid to delist Marcolin, which produces and distributes eyewear collections for brands including Balenciaga, Dsquared2, Tom Ford, Diesel, Roberto Cavalli and Swarovski, as well as house brands Marcolin and Web Eyewear. The Della Valles acquired their stake in the company in 2004 through their holdings DDV Partecipazioni Srl and ADV Partecipazioni Srl, joining the board. Diego Della Valle further committed to the company by inking licensing agreements in 2008 for the production and distribution of his Tod’s and Hogan eyewear collections. In addition to the Marcolin family, with a 30.58 percent stake, other shareholders include Diesel chief Renzo Rosso, with a 2 percent holding, and high-profile Italian entrepreneur Luigi Abete, who owns 10 percent. While rivals Luxottica and Safilo have succeeded in investing in distribution with their own retail chains, Marcolin is still mainly a production firm. A new owner, said a source here, may want to look into exploring opening retail stores for Marcolin brands. In 2009, Paris-based Pai Partners walked away from negotiations to buy a stake in Safilo, which was then sold to the Dutch investment company Hal Holding NV. Last year, Pai cashed in on a deal to sell a 69.3 percent majority holding (with Fincoin) in Italy’s largest clothing retailer, Gruppo Coin SpA, to London-based private equity firm BC Partners for 644.5 million euros, or $922.6 million. Hailing from Benetton Group and Nordica, current Marcolin chief executive officer Giovanni Zoppas was previously chief financial officer and ceo of Coin Group, and may have been a link with Pai Partners. Marcolin celebrated its 50th anniversary last year. The company was founded in 1961 by Giovanni Marcolin Coffen as Fabbrica Artigiana in Cadore, the eyewear production district in Italy’s Veneto region, and became Marcolin Occhiali Doublé in 1964. The firm went public on the Italian Stock Exchange in 1999. The founder remains chairman of the group, flanked by his twin sons, Maurizio and Cirillo Marcolin. Hurt by the financial crisis in Europe, Marcolin’s first-half net profits dropped 20.5 percent to 12.6 million euros, or $16.4 million. Revenues — hit by a 15 percent decline in sales in Europe, the group’s largest market, and by the expiration of the Ferrari and John Galliano licenses — decreased 2.7 percent to 121.5 million euros, or $157.7 million. Dollar amounts have been converted at average exchange rates for the periods to which they refer.The first half saw an improvement in the company’s debt situation, with net debt down to 3.8 million euros, or $4.9 million, compared with 5.7 million euros, or $7.4 million, a year ago.

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