Italy’s Top IPO Candidates Revealed in Study

Pambianco Strategie di Impresa identified companies that have the right characteristics for a stock market listing in a three-to-five-year period.

MILAN — In a ranking of the top 50 Italian fashion firms that have the requisites to go public, Dolce & Gabbana remains in the top spot, followed by Giorgio Armani — second only given the age of the founding designer — and the Ermenegildo Zegna Group.

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On Wednesday, luxury and fashion consultancy Pambianco Strategie di Impresa presented at the Milan Bourse its 2012 study of the fashion companies that have the right characteristics for a stock market listing in a three-to-five-year period — independently from any actual plans by the companies to go public. In fact, Domenico Dolce, Stefano Gabbana, Giorgio Armani and Gildo Zegna, chief executive officer of the textile and fashion giant, have repeatedly said the plan was to keep their companies private. Pambianco this year added a ranking of the top 15 home and design firms, which saw Kartell secure the first slot.

The study is based on criteria such as sales of more than 50 million euros, or $65.3 million at current exchange; an increase of revenues over the past three years of more than 10 percent; a company’s retail network, its debt, and the age of the founding entrepreneur or its ceo.

“Fashion and the Bourse are increasingly getting closer,” said Carlo Pambianco, head of the consultancy. “Entrepreneurs today are aware that approaching the financial world today is a fundamental strategic lever to continue to invest and develop their brands in main international markets.”

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Compared with last year’s study, Dolce & Gabbana and Armani’s positioning was unvaried, while Zegna moved up from the fifth place to the third. Likewise, Max Mara was once again in seventh place. While underscoring that the ranking has no relevance with the performance of each company, Pambianco said that Diesel’s parent company, Only the Brave, dropped to eighth place from fourth last year. Diesel founder Renzo Rosso has never ruled out a listing but has recently said he does not see it happening anytime soon.

Loro Piana moved up to number nine from 13, and Moncler down to number 10 from eighth. Moncler shelved its initial public offering last year, but chairman and ceo Remo Ruffini said in November that “a listing remains [the company’s] goal.” Conversely, last month, Pier Luigi Loro Piana, ceo of the textile and apparel group, said he was not thinking of going public, after toying with the idea 13 years ago when the company wanted to diversify into retail. Roberto Cavalli moved up to the 15th position from the 22nd last year and Versace was up to the 20th position from the 23rd. The Versace family, as well as Roberto Cavalli, have not taken any steps towards a listing so far.

Companies that have been reported as eyeing the Bourse were part of the ranking. For example, jewelry firm Pomellato ranked 33rd from 35th last year; men’s wear brand Stefano Ricci moved up to the 16th spot compared with 32nd in 2011, and Pianoforte, parent holding of accessories, beachwear and swimwear brands Carpisa, Yamamay and Jaked, was listed as number 12, unvaried. Ermanno Scervino was a new entry positioned at number 19, as was Dirk Bikkembergs, which closed the list at number 50.

Luca Peyrano, head of Continental Europe Primary Markets of the Italian Bourse, said that, if all these companies were to go public with a 30 percent stake, they would capitalize a total of 12 billion euros, or $15.7 billion.

The country’s stock exchange is “the ideal venue for fashion and luxury brands because it knows how to enhance intangible assets such as the value of the brand and its know-how,” said Peyrano. “Through a listing, many of these companies could have the financial and managerial resources necessary to accelerate their growth and to turn from domestic into global champions.” He also said that Italy lacked big groups, but identified the Bourse as “a system which helps aggregate.”

Asked about prospects for 2013, Peyrano said there is strong interest in the Bourse, hurt by a “volatile and unstable context, where a lot depends on Europe and the U.S.” He said it was “complicated” to provide a number of firms likely to go public next year, but did not rule out new IPOs. Peyrano cited Salvatore Ferragamo and Brunello Cucinelli’s recent successful public listings, which took place “in the worst possible period.”