By  on February 4, 2010

MILAN — Italian eyewear maker Safilo Group SpA has kicked off its rights offering for a total of up to 250 million euros, or $348.3 million at current exchange, as part of the capital increase approved by the company in December.

The country’s stock market watchdog, Consob, has given Safilo the green light for the publication of the company’s prospectus and has accepted trading of Safilo’s new shares issued through the offering. A total of more than 822.5 million shares at a nominal value each of 0.25 euros, or 34 cents, will be offered at 0.34 euros, or 47 cents, from Monday to Feb. 26.

Before initiating the offer, the capital increase of 250 million euros will be entirely underwritten by Dutch retailer HAL Holding NV.

The total amount raised through the recapitalization will go toward lowering the eyeglass maker’s debt, which, at the end of September, totaled 586.3 million euros, or $800.9 million at average exchange rates.

Safilo produces and distributes eyewear under license for brands including Giorgio Armani, Gucci, Dior, Valentino and Alexander McQueen, among others.

In December, Safilo escaped bankruptcy as the Amsterdam-listed Halaccepted 50.99 percent of the eyewear maker’s tendered notes. Hal waived the minimum 60 percent tender threshold and reached an agreement with Safilo and Only3T SpA, which holds a 39.9 percent stake in the company and is controlled by the Tabacchi family, to acquire an equity interest in Safilo ranging from 37.23 percent to 49.99 percent. Upon completion of the approved recapitalization plan, the company’s founding Tabacchi family will see its 39.9 percent controlling share in Safilo drop to 10 percent.

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