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In Brief: Power Shift … Exit at Wilsons

<B>POWER SHIFT:</B> Prada declined to comment on a report in Italian daily MF that it has tapped former San Paolo IMI banker Carlo Mazzi to fill a newly created but yet-to-be-named position at Prada. The luxury goods company has said it is...

POWER SHIFT: Prada declined to comment on a report in Italian daily MF that it has tapped former San Paolo IMI banker Carlo Mazzi to fill a newly created but yet-to-be-named position at Prada. The luxury goods company has said it is reorganizing several operations such as finance, administration, legal affairs, general affairs, human resources and information technology into one department to be headed by a new manager, who will be named shortly. Sources said Mazzi would be a logical appointee since he is said to be one of Prada head Patrizio Bertelli’s close friends and a link to Italy’s banking system. A pool of Italian banks — Banca Intesa, Unicredito Italiano, Banca Popolare di Lodi and Centrobanca — are guaranteeing Prada’s 700 million euros, or $893.7 million at current exchange, worth of convertible bonds due next year, a deal under which the company pledged 60 percent of its capital as collateral. Meanwhile, it has emerged that Luciano Benetton resigned from Prada’s board nearly six months ago. He joined in June 2002 just days before Prada was set to start its road show for an initial public offering. Prada declined further comment on Benetton’s departure and a Benetton spokesman declined comment.

EXIT AT WILSONS: Joel Waller, chairman and ceo of Wilsons The Leather Experts, will step down Jan. 31. The firm has initiated a search and expects to make an announcement about succession plans within a month. Waller, 65, has been with the company and its predecessor firms for 28 years and has been ceo since 1983. Wilsons, which operates 453 stores in the U.S., has recently completed a series of turnaround measures aimed to realign costs with revenues and help it rebound from a costly and abortive venture in the travel business dating back to 2001. The company reported a net loss of $57.2 million in the first half ended July 31, about $22.4 million of it related to inventory liquidation, as sales slid 1.3 percent to $153.1 million.