MILAN -- With the proposed acquisition of GFT SpA by Plaid Clothing Group PLC apparently moving ahead, GFT said Monday that its managing director, Clemente Signoroni, 46, has resigned.
In a terse statement issued from its Turin headquarters, the maker of designer label apparel said, "Signoroni's departure follows the satisfactory operational recovery of the company and comes in view of the imminent passage of ownership."
The announcement confirmed a report in these columns Monday.
Plaid Clothing, as reported, has been in exclusive talks to buy majority control of GFT for about $240 million. Monday's announcement by GFT did not specify the identity of its buyer, or when an agreement might be closed. Plaid, though, is expected to confirm its offer before the end of the month, when its exclusive status is slated to expire. According to financial sources, a group of American commercial and investment banks, led by Prudential Securities and Chemical Bank, are willing to support the Plaid bid, although no details about the status of the negotiations have been revealed.
Reached in New York, Denis F. Kelly, who is on the board of Plaid and heads the mergers and acquisition department of Prudential Securities, declined to comment other than to state, "If you want to know about Plaid, call Plaid." Chemical Bank also declined comment.
An official at Plaid in New York declined to comment on the reports concerning Prudential and Chemical and on the Signoroni resignation. However, he confirmed that the acquisition of GFT "is moving ahead and on track."
The transaction, he said, should close "in late July or early August."
GFT also said the group's board would meet within the next few days to appoint a replacement for Signoroni. Rather than name a new outsider to the post, GFT is expected to promote someone internally in the interim before the new buyer comes in.
Signoroni is a former executive of the Fiat SpA industrial group. His plans were not disclosed, and he could not be reached for comment Monday.
Inside sources, as reported, have suggested that Signoroni resigned in disagreement over Plaid's offer. They said Signoroni had made it known he didn't feel it was plausible for a group such as Plaid, with revenues one-third the size of GFT, to carry off such an acquisition. Plaid's revenues last year were $285 million, compared with $875 million for GFT.Signoroni had reportedly been pushing for a solution that would keep GFT in Italian hands, namely an accord with Fiat group investment company Gemina SpA. The latter has repeatedly denied that it is interested in acquiring GFT.
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