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Marzotto Names New President

VALDAGNO, Italy — In a move aimed at facilitating the restructuring of Marzotto SpA, the fashion and textile company named a new president and six new board members during its annual shareholders meeting in this small town north of Venice...

VALDAGNO, Italy — In a move aimed at facilitating the restructuring of Marzotto SpA, the fashion and textile company named a new president and six new board members during its annual shareholders meeting in this small town north of Venice Friday.

Giovanni Gajo, 61, who has a strong banking and finance background, succeeds Innocenza Cippolletta, who held the position of president for less than three years. Jean de Jaegher, vice president, also stepped down but his position won’t be filled. Antonio Favrin remains chief executive of the group.

Meanwhile, a new shareholders pact that excludes patriarch and Italian industrialist Pietro Marzotto was established among other members of the Marzotto family. The pact among Marzotto family shareholders, who now control 27 percent of Marzotto, grew out of ongoing market speculation that Marzotto’s shareholding structure was destabilizing as family differences grew.

Pietro Marzotto stepped down as president in 1998, but he continued to wield power over the company as a majority shareholder. Although not involved in this new pact, he was reelected as a Marzotto board member. He now personally controls 15.2 percent of the firm, according to Italian regulatory agency Consob.

Tensions hit the boiling point last year when the Marzotto patriarch, who then owned about 20 percent of the firm, and some members of the family voted against a plan to reorganize the family’s assets. Under terms of the now-defunct plan, Marzotto’s family-controlled company Industrie Zignago Santa Margherita would have launched an offer for all outstanding shares of Marzotto.

Favrin downplayed the importance of the pact, saying the group was focused on building its core fashion brands, Hugo Boss, Valentino and Marlboro Classics.

For the quarter ended March 31, Marzotto said net profits slid 26 percent to $42.5 million, compared with $57.4 million in the same period last year, because of its investment in the Valentino brand. Figures have been converted from euros at current exchange rates.

Net consolidated sales rose 3.5 percent to $624.9 million against $604.2 million in last year’s first quarter. The company credited the rise to improved performance at its textile division and to the consolidation of Valentino.

Eliminating noncomparable operations such as Valentino, sales fell 3 percent to $585.8 million from $604.2 million, mainly because of the rise of the euro. Excluding both sales generated by Valentino and the negative impact of the euro, Fravin said revenues would have gained slightly.

Valentino’s sales increased 8.2 percent in April compared with same period last year.

Marzotto’s textile sector also improved. A spokesman said the operating loss for the first quarter was $3.4 million, $11.5 million less than one year ago.