By  on December 17, 2009

MILAN — Shareholders of Safilo SpA have approved a capital increase of up to 263 million euros, or $382.9 million at current exchange, which will allow Dutch retailer HAL Holding NV to take control of the Italian eyeglass maker and save the Padua-based company from near-bankruptcy.

In a statement released after an extraordinary shareholders’ meeting Tuesday afternoon, Safilo — which makes glasses under license for brands including Giorgio Armani, Gucci and Alexander McQueen — said it expects the capital increase to close in the first quarter of 2010.

According to a Safilo spokesman, the total amount raised through the recapitalization will go toward lowering the eyeglass maker’s debts of 590 million euros, or $859 million.

On Oct. 20, Safilo’s board approved a recapitalization plan under which HAL would end up owning as much as half the company. As part of the plan, Safilo also agreed to sell about half of its 300 global retail units to HAL for an additional 20 million euros, or $29 million. Safilo’s U.S. unit, Solstice, is excluded from the deal. Including the retail units sale, Safilo will raise up to 283 million euros, or $412 million.

Upon completion of the approved recapitalization plan, the company’s founding Tabacchi family will see its 39.9 percent controlling share in Safilo drop to 10 percent, while HAL — which already owns 2 percent of the company — will gain control with a shareholding of between 37.23 percent and 49.99 percent.

Without a successful tender offer, Safilo has said, the company would have likely defaulted on its banking facilities byyear’s end, leaving bankruptcy as its only alternative.

The capital increase plan was conditional on HAL acquiring at least 60 percent of Safilo’s 195 million euros, or $283.9 million, worth of outstanding high-yield 2013 notes by Nov. 30 — a deadline twice postponed. In a statement on Nov. 30, HAL said 51 percent of the notes had been tendered and that it was lowering its minimum requirement level from 60 percent of notes to 51 percent.

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