MILAN — The clock is ticking on Prada SpA’s initial public offering.

The Italian fashion group has until the end of the month to decide if it is to float on the Milan Stock Exchange in June, one of two months it has touted as possible windows for an IPO this year.

If not, Prada could wait until November to list, although any decision is subject to the result of consultations with advisers and due diligence analysis.

With the financial markets weathering a beating and Prada’s previous skittishness regarding a stock market float, it would be no surprise if the company sat out the storm before setting a date.

Indeed, sources close to Prada believe it will “probably not” go ahead with a June placement for this reason. The official company line is still, “No decision has been taken.”

Prada is believed to have met with advisers on Friday to discuss the listing. An announcement could come later this week, sources said.

To list in June, Prada would need to file the requisite documentation to the Italian stock market regulatory body Consob before May 1. The commission usually takes 60 days to approve the prospectus, only after which is a company free to kick off its IPO, should it so choose.

But like the proposed Tommy Hilfiger IPO, which owner Apax Partners postponed in January, Prada would not be obliged to proceed with its listing, despite the filing. Apax put a stop to the Hilfiger Group IPO on Jan. 24, one day before the road show was to begin, citing volatile market conditions.

Moreover, as Armando Branchini, deputy chairman of Milan-based luxury goods consultancy Intercorporate, highlighted Friday, Prada is in good financial health. “A gun isn’t pointed at his head,” Branchini said, referring to Prada chief executive officer Patrizio Bertelli. “In recent years, the company’s sales have grown, it has been successful with the products it has offered to the market, it has conquered new markets, and the company’s profit margins have increased.”

Last year, Prada registered a near 66 percent rise in net profits to 126.8 million euros, or $173.8 million at average exchange. Sales for the 12 months through Jan. 31 increased 14.1 percent to 1.66 billion euros, or $2.27 billion.

This story first appeared in the April 14, 2008 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization reached 316 million euros, or $433.2 million, while debt stood at 507.5 million euros, or $695.7 million.

Branchini believes Bertelli will probably hold off from listing in June “until the financial markets improve” and could even foresee the ceo waiting until next year.

“The Federal Reserve has forecast there will be six bad months,” Branchini said. “If this proves to be the case, then Prada could list in November-December. But Bertelli could even wait until February-March.”

The group, which is 95 percent owned by the Prada family, appointed Italy’s Intesa SanPaolo SpA and Unicredit SpA and Goldman Sachs & Co. as its banks last year. The luxury group is expected to offer some 30 to 40 percent of its equity to investors. Recent estimates value Prada at 4 billion to 5 billion euros, or $6.32 billion to $7.9 billion at current exchange.

Prada has called off its IPO more than once — although how many times depends on different interpretations. According to Prada, it has only canceled its listing twice, first after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks and secondly in May 2002 due to market volatility. However, Bertelli has been flirting with the stock market on and off for the last seven years.

Whatever the decision this week or next, “One thing is sure,” a Milan based analyst told WWD, “Prada will list sooner or later.”

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