SIMINT BOARD VOTES FOR LEGAL ACTION AGAINST EX-EXECS MINELLI, RAMELLA

Byline: Sara Gay Forden

MILAN--The board of directors of Simint SpA, the money-losing manufacturer of the Armani Jeans line, voted Friday to seek legal action against former managing director Luca Ramella and former financial director Ubaldo Minelli for alleged balance sheet irregularities.
Simint's new management threatened to launch an investigation of former Simint executives when a review this year of accounts exposed losses of $147 million (226.5 billion lire) for the year ended April 30.
The losses included $42 million (65 billion lire) in connection with the sale of Simint USA.
Ramella said the charges were "reckless and without any basis." Minelli wasn't immediately available for comment.
After former chairman Francesco Micheli, one of Simint's founding shareholders, sold his stake in Simint earlier this year, Simint is now 22.5 percent controlled by Giorgio Armani, who has made a commitment to save the struggling sportswear manufacturer. Through deferred credits and an agreement to guarantee some $26 million (40 billion lire) of a planned capital increase, Armani has already committed some $78 million (120 billion lire) to save Simint from liquidation.
"The significant financial effort we are making for Simint shows the desire of Giorgio Armani to bring the company out of the troubles it has found itself in," said Pino Brusone, managing director of Giorgio Armani SpA. "But the investment we are making isn't limited to the more than 120 billion lire that we have made available to the company...saving Simint, which is a company with high potential for development and growth, is a challenge that we have accepted and that we want to win.
"This is a company that is not only of importance to the city of Modena...but also for the small shareholders that risk losing everything they had invested," Brusone said.
--Fairchild News Service

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