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Prada: No IPO Yet, Looks to Cut Debt

MILAN — There’s still no word when Prada will finally go public, but the company is mulling several moves to cut its debt and bolster its balance sheet. <br><br>Prada is mum on just what those options might be, but a source close to the...

MILAN — There’s still no word when Prada will finally go public, but the company is mulling several moves to cut its debt and bolster its balance sheet.

Prada is mum on just what those options might be, but a source close to the firm said possibilities include spinning off real estate assets and integrating the Miu Miu brand into the Prada group. Prada’s debt, amassed during a buying spree of brands like Jil Sander and Helmut Lang, stood at $809.4 million as of June 30. (Dollars have been converted from euros at current exchange rates.)

Currently, the Miu Miu brand is owned by a Luxembourg company controlled by the Prada family and Prada pays royalties to the company. Those royalties came to about $10 million in 2001, according to Prada’s annual report.

As for the real estate spinoff, Prada could opt to transfer all or some of its real estate assets to a special-purpose vehicle and then sell off a stake in this company to a third party such as a property company or a bank, this person said. The group’s real estate assets are estimated to be worth more than $501.5 million.

Such a plan would generate quick cash for Prada, which would then pay rent to the special-purpose vehicle, this source explained. But he stressed that Prada is still mulling this idea, downplaying a local press report that Patrizio Bertelli and Miuccia Prada have already asked for a bank loan of $130.4 million to $150.5 million to finance the spinoff.

This summer, Prada pulled the plug on its highly anticipated initial public offering for the third time, owing to poor market conditions. Since then, Bertelli has said Prada still intends to list shares, but hasn’t been more precise on timing.