By  on July 1, 2005

MILAN — There will be a true mix of fashion and finance on the Milan stock exchange today.

Valentino Garavani will lead a lavish ceremony at the exchange to mark the start of trading in shares of the new Valentino Fashion Group, which will be valued at close to $1 billion. The events will include a show of 30 vintage Valentino gowns as well as videos tracking the company's history.

The designer is expected to ring the opening bell.

As reported, Marzotto is spinning off Valentino, a controlling stake in Hugo Boss and other clothing assets into the new Valentino Fashion Group. Investors will receive one Valentino Fashion Group share for every Marzotto share they hold. Shares will commence trading at 21.51 euros, or $25.95, per share, Marzotto's closing price on Thursday.

Valentino Fashion Group will be listed in the blue chip segment for companies with a market capitalization of 800 million euros, or $925.3 million, or more.

For Valentino, it marks the third change in ownership of his brand since 1998, when he and his business partner Giancarlo Giammetti sold the company to the now-defunct Holding di Partecipazioni Industriali for $233 million. Garavani shed tears at the press conference to announce the deal.

Valentino languished in the red under HdP, which also owned the once mighty GFT manufacturing company, and Marzotto bought the designer company in 2002 for $210 million (including Valentino's net debt of $179.2 million). The deal included lucrative contracts for Valentino and Giammetti.

The designer and Marzotto were both mum on whether he or Giammetti will hold shares in the new Valentino Fashion Group. But both sides have again refuted speculation that Valentino was preparing to step aside for a new designer at the house.

"I don't intend to stop," Valentino stated after presenting a Capri-themed men's spring-summer collection here on Wednesday. Photos of Garavani in his younger days splashed across a large screen for the show's finale, prompting some to question whether the designer was preparing his last runway bow.

Garavani said that's not the case. He's just nostalgic for the Seventies days of jet setting. "All of us Roman playboys were there," he said.

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