MILAN — Cash-strapped Fin.part, which earlier this week said it’s heading for a default on hundreds of millions of dollars worth of bonds, is asking banks for a loan to carry out a restructuring plan and partially compensate investors.
Gianni Mazzola, Fin.part’s chairman, is attempting to pull the company out of a financial crisis that has been marked by high executive turnover, unrest among employees and investors and rejection by auditors examining the company’s books. Fin.part said Monday it cannot repay 211 million euros, or $258.6 million at current exchange, worth of bonds due this month. The company is seeking a loan of 80 million euros, or $98.1 million.
In the meantime, a Milan public prosecutor is investigating Fin.part’s founder and former chief executive officer, Gianluigi Facchini, for alleged insider trading, share manipulation and balance sheet fraud. Facchini stepped down as chairman of the company in April of last year. This May he shed his ceo title, and on Monday he resigned from the board and all of his other official capacities with the company. Milan prosecutor Eugenio Fusco confirmed that he is investing Facchini on these charges but declined to comment further.
Facchini built up Fin.part’s stable of brands to include the likes of Cerruti, Frette, Henry Cottons and Marina Yachting, but he also racked up considerable debts, which at certain periods eclipsed the group’s annual turnover. As of May 31, Fin.part’s net debt stood at 342.4 million euros, or $419.7 million. A Fin.part spokesman declined to comment on an Italian press report that Mazzola is considering his own legal case against Facchini over an alleged lack of transparency.
Fin.part said Wednesday that its financial adviser Abn Amro approached a group of banks, requesting funding of 80 million euros, or $98.1 million. Fin.part said it was hopeful that it could reach a financing deal by mid-August so it could proceed with its restructuring plan and meet part of its outstanding bond obligations. As reported, the plan calls for inking licensing agreements for Fin.part’s brands, renting out infrastructure such as showrooms and factories to these licensees and selling off noncore assets to generate cash. Fin.part has struck a licensing deal with Tombolini for men’s and women’s Cerruti collections through the fall-winter 2007 season.
“I am confident in the support of the banking system,” Mazzola said in a statement, adding that Fin.part’s requests were “extremely reasonable.”
Fin.part said the plan will allow it to reimburse about 40 percent of the nominal value of its bonds in cash and convert the remainder into new Fin.part shares. The company and its Cerruti subsidiary have two bond issues coming due this month: an 11 million euro, or $13.5 million, Fin.part bond and a 200 million euro, or $245.2 million, Cerruti Finance bond. Fin.part bondholders are slated to meet July 27.
Giuseppe Augurusa, a representative of the Filtea union, said employees are scheduled to meet with Fin.part management today to discuss a production plan. He said he’s skeptical as to how a plan can be conceived when there are no fabric or buttons in the Cerruti plant.
“It all depends on the banking system right now,” he said.
— With contributions from Luisa Zargani