By  on March 11, 2010

MILAN — IT Holding SpA has reached an agreement with unions to cut about 450 jobs as part of the restructuring of the group.

“It was a painful but necessary decision, and a significant step to clearly define the structure of the group in view of a sale,” said Andrea Ciccoli, one of the three state-appointed administrators. IT Holding, parent company of the Gianfranco Ferré, Malo and Exté brands and of manufacturing arm Ittierre SpA, has been in government-backed bankruptcy protection since February 2009.

In October, IT Holding was granted temporary and partial state-funded support for about 220 employees. “We have moved from a temporary measure to a structural redesign of the group,” said Ciccoli. In addition to those 220 workers, who have already exited the company, another 230 will leave in the next four to eight weeks. IT Holding is eligible for the state-financed support because it employs more than 15 people and because its bankruptcy is backed by the government. Some employees could be rehired if conditions improve, but that is not often the case.

Ciccoli said that in February 2009 the company employed 1,692 people. He noted the agreement with the unions also comes in view of an “industrial program that aims to ensure a solid future” to the companies of the group: Malo, Gianfranco Ferré and Ittierre. The minister of economic development, Claudio Scajola, has approved the administrators’ program, he added, and over the next few days the announcement of the Malo auction will be published in newspapers such as the Financial Times and Italy’s Il Sole 24 Ore. The auctions of Ferré and then Ittierre will follow.

In January, Maurizio Borletti, chairman of Borletti Group, the department store operator that recently eyed investments in Escada and Christian Lacroix, said he was mulling a bid for Ittierre, which produces the Just Cavalli, C’N’C Costume National, Galliano and Ermanno Scervino collections. According to sources, a group of Indian funds is looking at the financial information on Ferré, while Malo has been drawing interest from Italian cashmere firm Cruciani; apparel manufacturer Falber, which produces the John Richmond line and others, and private equity fund Stirling Square Capital Partners, which controls the Jeckerson brand. Athena Consorzio also plans to submit an offer to buy IT Holding. The consortium comprises a pool of small and medium-sized companies that operate in the fashion and textile industries, several of which are IT Holding’s suppliers.

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