• FIN.PART SHRINKS AGAIN: Cerruti parent Fin.part is chipping away at its debt pile. The company said it has struck a preliminary agreement to sell textile printing company Star SpA to textile group Nemesis SpA for a price of about $28.6 million or 25 million euros in local currency. Fin.part said the deal should be finalized by Oct. 15. Fin.part has been trying to sell off assets to reduce its crippling levels of debt. Back in April, citing “financial tension” in the group’s books, auditor KPMG declined to approve Fin.part’s 2002 accounts. Selling off assets like the Maska brand and real estate company Iniziative Immobiliari helped Fin.part reduce its net debt to $411.77 million, or 359.8 million euros, as of June 30, down from $583.6 million, or 510 million euros, a year earlier.

  • OUT OF THE CLUB: In line with its strategy to focus on its core designer brands’ business, such as Gianfranco Ferré, Malo, Romeo Gigli and Gentryportofino, IT Holding’s parent company, GTP Holding SpA, has sold its majority stake in the Diners Club Europe franchise to Citigroup, which has acquired full control over the consumer cards business. Citigroup owns 100 percent of Diners Club International, the franchisor, and wholly or partly owns Diners Club businesses in an additional 18 countries throughout the world. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed. In a separate development, Gianfranco Ferré SpA announced it will supply off-field uniforms for players and managers of the football club Bayern München, starting with the2003-2004 season. Ferré will provide suits, coats and jackets, accessories and eyewear.

  • AD ASIA: LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton this week appointed ZenithOptimedia, a division of Publicis, as its media buying agency for parts of Asia. LVMH reportedly has an advertising budget of $35 million to $50 million for the region.

  • LEVI’S TAPS LAPORTA: Levi Strauss & Co. this week named insider Scott LaPorta senior vice president of customer relations, strategy and finance for the Americas. LaPorta last served as senior vice president for strategy and finance. He succeeds Gregg Hammann, who was instrumental in developing the Levi Strauss Signature line that bowed at Wal-Mart this month. Hammann was named president and chief executive officer of The Nautilus Group Inc., the maker of fitness products. Hammann, previously of Coca-Cola, was recruited to Levi’s by president and ceo Phil Marineau in early 2001. LaPorta reports to Marineau.

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