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Prada Taps New Executives

Prada names new executives Carlo Mazzi, Donatello Galli, and Tomaso Galli.

MILAN — Prada named two new key executives as it reorganizes its corporate structure after chief financial officer Riccardo Stilli’s resignation last month.

Prada said Carlo Mazzi, a former banker with Sanpaolo IMI, already has started at the company as coordinator for a number of areas including finance, administration and control, legal affairs, human resources and information technology. Mazzi also sits on Prada’s board.

Donatello Galli, who also has past banking experience at Sanpaolo IMI, will start as director of administration and finance in December.

In another development, Prada named former Gucci Group corporate communications director Tomaso Galli to be director of communication and external relations starting in January. He succeeds Giacomo Ovidi, who will become director of a company that will develop the Luna Rossa brand through a partnership with Telecom Italia. (Luna Rossa is the name of the World Cup competitive boat owned by Prada chief Patrizio Bertelli.)

Financial sources pointed out that Mazzi is a close friend of Bertelli’s and provides a link to Italy’s banking system. A pool of Italian banks — Banca Intesa, Unicredito Italiano, Banca Popolare di Lodi and Centrobanca — are guaranteeing Prada’s 700 million euros, or $893.7 million at current exchange, worth of convertible bonds due next year, a deal in which the company pledged 60 percent of its capital as collateral.

Investors and industry experts want to see if Prada will finally carry out an initial public offering and become a public company after three postponed attempts. Prada has said it wants to go public before the convertible bonds are due in June, but only if market conditions permit.

Stilli’s departure, as well as last week’s disclosure that Jil Sander left her Prada-owned company for the second time in four years, renewed some market skepticism that Prada will still carry out an IPO. Stilli, a long-term Prada employee, was considered a critical part of the management team and the IPO project. The prospect of a Jil Sander without Sander — especially after Milan Vukmirovich’s rocky stint as designer in her first absence — is already rattling fashion observers.

Prada is going with an internal design team approach for Jil Sander. Retailers have expressed a mixture of frustration and bewilderment over this tactic. There is also speculation that Prada could eventually hire a marquee name to design the collection. Names such as Lanvin’s Alber Elbaz and Narciso Rodriguez have surfaced in industry circles as potential candidates, although it’s seen as highly unlikely either designer would sign on. A Prada spokesman declined to comment specifically on any designer names, reiterating the company statement on the group approach.

“The creative direction is with an internal team whose experience has been consolidated within the company for the past few years,” a Prada spokesman said.

In the meantime, a Jil Sander spokeswoman has said the label is still set to show a fall-winter 2005-2006 men’s collection on the Milan runways in January.

— With contributions from Miles Socha, Paris,and Courtney Colavita