By  on March 30, 2007

MILAN — Aeffe, the Italian clothing manufacturer that controls the Alberta Ferretti, Moschino and Pollini businesses, said Thursday it is planning an initial public offering here.

Aeffe said it has deposited the documents to request an IPO with the Italian Bourse and stock market regulator Consob. "We are looking at a listing in the STAR segment of the Bourse," said Aeffe chairman Massimo Ferretti.

Medium-sized, family-owned, highly specialized or technically skilled companies generally target STAR. Mediobanca and Merrill Lynch International have been tapped to be global coordinators of the offering. In a statement, Aeffe said it has decided in view of the listing on a capital increase.

Although talk of an Aeffe IPO first surfaced in 2000 and picked up two years later, Ferretti said last November that the listing "was not a priority." At that time, Aeffe bought back a 20 percent stake in the group from merchant bank Sanpaolo IMI — a move made to directly control management and strategy, which was perceived by the industry as effectively scrapping the idea of an IPO.

"The market is very favorable, Aeffe is growing well, and we wanted to be more autonomous in order to directly decide and manage our future strategies," Ferretti said then.

Armando Branchini, president of luxury goods consultancy Intercorporate, said he believed Aeffe decided to do an IPO because it "wants to invest in retailing, the most costly area in the luxury business." Branchini said Aeffe is a "very healthy company that works well, is managed wisely, and the fact that it is planning a listing indicates as much. It has a very positive track record, and this is a modern choice."

Branchini said the IPO could happen as early as this fall, adding that this is a very positive moment for fashion and the Bourse. Last summer, Salvatore Ferragamo also revealed plans to go public in the near future.

Aeffe is indeed mapping out the opening of new stores around the world, in particular in emerging markets. In 2007, the group will open Alberta Ferretti boutiques in Beijing and New Delhi, Moschino boutiques in New Delhi and Istanbul, and Pollini stores in St. Petersburg and Moscow, to name a few.

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