MILAN — Cerruti parent Fin.part has parted with one of its brands in a move to lower its debt and finally have its accounts certified.

The firm sold Maska last week for $30.3 million to a group of private investors including Maska’s current chief executive officer Gianni Trevisan. Dollar figures have been converted from the euro at the current exchange rate. In local currency, the price was 26.1 million euros.

Luxembourg-based investor group Go & Create Investment bought 85 percent of Maska while Trevisan bought 15 percent. That $30.3 million is almost entirely made up of assumed debt while the actual price for the brand’s assets was only $1.2 million. The deal will reduce Fin.part’s consolidated debt by about $23.2 million. Fin.part said its net debt stood at $472.2 million at the end of the first quarter, nearly 90 percent of its full-year 2002 volume of $532.2 million.

Following the sale, Fin.part’s chief executive officer, Gianluigi Facchini, reiterated on Monday that the company is now fully focused on Cerruti, or Cerruti 1881, as the line has now been renamed. According to the company, the 1881 figure is “synonymous” with Cerruti and “increases the brand’s appeal.”

The men’s spring 2004 line, designed by Adrian Smith, bowed on Monday. The women’s line is designed by David Cardona.

“I am here to grant a strategic continuity,” Facchini said before the Cerruti men’s show here, held at the Milan Stock Exchange. “I intend to give support and encouragement to the company.”

Facchini noted that the Cerruti business has grown 25 percent, through sales of the fall 2003 collections.

As reported, Facchini holds a 20 percent stake in the firm and was recently renominated chief executive alongwith Silvano Storer. In April, Facchini stepped down as chairman after auditors KPMG rejected the group’s annual results. Ubaldo Livolsi was nominated chairman in his place.

“We are old friends and decided to be partners at work, so that we will guarantee a future to Fin.part,” Facchini said, referring to Livolsi.

Facchini said the sale of Maska should “appease” the auditors.“This is a sign that we are on target,” said Facchini, noting that the goal was originally to sell Maska by the end of the year. “We are ahead of our plans. Now, we are aiming at having our first-half financial results certified.”

Fin.part is currently shopping brands it has acquired since 1996, such as Frette and Andrea Pfister, to help trim its debt.

“We are consolidating this strategy and have a restructuring project that spans from 2003 to 2007,” said Facchini. Although the sale of Frette was originally part of the group’s plans, on Monday Facchini said that the company is evaluating offers for Frette, but that this does not necessarily mean a sale of the brand is happening. “We are also considering joint ventures or partnerships,” he said.

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