Alessandro Benetton Ups Stake

Benetton executive deputy chairman purchased 45,500 shares this week, or more than 1 million euros of the company's stock.

MILAN — Alessandro Benetton has put his money where his mouth is.

This story first appeared in the October 3, 2008 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

The executive deputy chairman of Benetton Group SpA purchased 45,500 company shares this week, increasing his investment in the Italian clothing retailer to 160,500 shares, equivalent to more than 1 million euros, or $1.4 million at current exchange.

“In the current difficult context of the international financial markets, even emotive reactions are inevitable,” Benetton said Thursday.

“I think that at this particular juncture, it is essential to take into account the solidity of the group’s foundations and trust in our assets and in the strategy of development and innovation we are energetically pursuing, with tangible results.”

Last week, the group bought back 657,000 shares for nearly 5 million euros, or almost $8.5 million, taking its holding to over 6.6 million shares, or 3.6 percent of social capital. The stock has lost more than 17 percent of its value in the last month.

Citigroup downgraded the clothier to “hold” earlier this week, after Benetton chief financial officer Emilio Foa unexpectedly quit the company less than two years into the job.

Citigroup said Foa’s resignation cast some doubt over Benetton’s ability to retain top-notch management and that the lack of an immediate replacement and the prospect of a worsening macroeconomic outlook in Europe undermined investor confidence.

On Thursday, the stock closed up 1.4 percent to 6.51 euros, or $9.17.