By  on August 3, 2006

MILAN — An initial public offering is on the horizon for the Salvatore Ferragamo Group, and the company is going outside the family to help get it done.

Ferragamo on Wednesday appointed Michele Norsa as its new chief executive officer and general manager of the group, controlled by Salvatore Ferragamo Italia. Norsa last week resigned his post as ceo of Valentino SpA and general manager of Valentino Fashion Group's licensed brands, M Missoni and Marlboro Classics.

"The [family's] fourth generation is up next, and we did not want for these young shareholders to be restrained, without the chance to sell or buy [shares]," said Ferruccio Ferragamo, managing director of the company, who will now become chairman of SFI. "We want a company with a broader and more fluid breadth."

He did not reveal a specific time frame for an IPO, although Wanda Ferragamo, who has led the group for more than 45 years, said in a statement the listing would happen in the "not too distant future."

This is the first time the Ferragamo family has expressed an interest in an IPO, although Norsa's experience with the process is clearly one of the reasons he was brought into the Italian footwear, leather goods and ready-to-wear company. Norsa played a critical role in Marzotto SpA's stock market spin-off of its fashion interests into Valentino Fashion Group.

"Norsa is an expert, well-prepared and knowledgeable, someone I've known for years, and I really admire him," said Ferruccio Ferragamo. "We want to do it well, but there is no rush, we have liquid assets and we will go public when the company will be ready and when the market will be favorable."

Wanda Ferragamo said that, by "assigning the executive role to a successful manager well known to us, the family intends to go on providing the vision, the guidance and the strategic coordination, as well as the passion needed to actively support a new development phase globally, taking advantage of the extraordinary potential offered by the brand."

Under the company's new structure, Wanda Ferragamo, the widow of founder Salvatore Ferragamo, will remain as chairman of Ferragamo Finanziaria, the family-owned holding company that controls SFI and, in addition, will become the honorary chairman of SFI.

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