MILAN — Shares of the new Yoox Net-a-porter Group closed their first day of trading on the upswing. After gaining all day Monday, shares of the company formed by the fusion of Yoox and Net-a-porter closed up 6.74 percent at 29.95 euros, or $33.57 at current exchange.
“I’ve been thinking of this merger for the past six years, because the rationale behind it is irrefutable,” Federico Marchetti said earlier in the day after ringing the bell at the Milan Stock Exchange during a ceremony to mark the first day of trading in the company, whose stock symbol is YNAP. The stately Milanese building was tied up with a large-scale black bow, à la a Net-a-porter box, “packaged” for the occasion.
“We will speak only one language, that of innovation to create the best online luxury brand in the world,” said Marchetti, chief executive officer of the new group.
The entrepreneur said that the goal expressed in March, when the merger was revealed, for YNAP to achieve synergies of 60 million euros, or $67.2 million, in earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization and capital expenditures in three years, was now seen as “conservative,” in light of the “synergic potential” of the company. Marchetti trumpeted two “perfectly complementary” companies and touted access to inventories “from anywhere.”
“This is a fusion of two leaders at the same level,” he said, describing Net-a-porter founder Natalie Massenet, who exited the company last month, as a “visionary,” addressing all his “respect and gratitude.” He said a five-year plan for YNAP would be presented in the spring or summer.
On the sidelines of the event, asked about the performance of China, Marchetti said the country is performing “very well, with a triple-digit growth” for Yoox.
Raffaele Jerusalmi, ceo of the Italian Bourse, remembered how Yoox first went public, on Dec. 3, 2009, “challenging the financial crisis.” He noted that YNAP is floating 70 percent of its shares, making it effectively “a public company in a country where many firms are family-owned,” generally floating around 25 or 30 percent of their shares. A beaming Marchetti said, “There is not going to be a third [IPO]. This is an opportunity that happens once in a lifetime.” He noted, on the sidelines of the event, that Yoox’s shares had jumped 600 percent from the first listing six years ago.
“The difficult part starts now,” said Luca Solca, managing director at Exane BNP Paribas. “I expect many more companies will want to do their digital in-house because it is strategic. Department stores and publishers are waking up quickly. Therefore, I expect a battle. The ‘time advantage’ of YNAP should slim down.”
Gianluca Pacini, equity analyst in charge of branded goods at Intesa Sanpaolo Bank, confirmed the bank’s April report, “recognizing the validity of the integration that should lead to take advantage of a higher geographic diversification. Through Net-a-porter, Yoox will enhance its offer in the U.K. and Australia, while Net-a-porter will benefit from Yoox’s expertise in Italy, Japan and China.”
Pacini said the merger “would create a platform catering to different luxury-fashion-customer segments through distinct and targeted propositions,” and would have “a more balanced offering between multibrand in-season, multibrand off-season and the online mono-brand stores.”
Marchetti elicited loud cheers from the audience at the exchange, which included Renzo Rosso, founder of Diesel parent OTB and an early supporter of Yoox through his Red Circle Investments; Fiat heir and Italia Independent founder Lapo Elkann; Laudomia Pucci; Pitti Immagine ceo Raffaello Napoleone, who is also ad interim president of Yoox; Oscar Farinetti, founder of Eataly and the newly appointed operative president of the gastronomic chain; Andrea Guerra, and La Rinascente’s ceo Alberto Baldan.
The Yoox trajectory may be a source of inspiration for Rosso, who praised Marchetti’s “beautiful company that makes us proud to be Italian.” Asked about a possible public listing of OTB, Rosso admitted: “We will get there one day, but we are now working on restructuring the company, especially Diesel.”
Rosso underscored that OTB — which also controls Margiela, Marni and Viktor & Rolf, as well as its production arm Staff International and Brave Kid — does not need an injection of funds. “We have the liquidity, the Bourse is not a means to bring home more cash, but a way to become more transparent and attract new people and managers,” he said.
He said OTB is growing in double-digits but that Diesel is “suffering” following the decision to streamline its points of sale and to raise the positioning of the brand. “We are foregoing 100 million euros [$112 million] in sales this year with this move, but in 12 weeks we have already seen positive results,” said Rosso.
Responding to a question about possible additional acquisitions to his stable of brands, the entrepreneur said that at OTB “there are two people just for that,” eyeing labels that could fit within the group, hinting at a deal that could take place “soon, or in 2016.”
Elkann, wearing a white suit and a perfect counterpoint to Rosso, who was dressed in all black, was also effusive about Marchetti and Yoox. “This is a great example of Italian success we should be proud of and shows that [our technology] can also be strong,” said Elkann, citing Ferrari and Ducati as other examples. “It’s a stimulus for us, although we still have a lot of work to be done,” he said.
In September, Elkann’s Italia Independent initiated the procedures to be listed on the Mercato Telematico Azionario of the Italian Bourse. The MTA is Italy’s leading equity market dedicated to mid- and large-size companies. Italia Independent was publicly listed on the AIM Italia Alternative Capital Market, a segment of the Italian Stock Exchange, in summer 2013.
Laudomia Pucci was equally “proud of a merger that sees Italy as the main actor. Size is important, and we must strengthen Europe globally.”
Baldan said he was pleased with the performance of La Rinascente, which logged a 15 percent increase as a group in the first nine months of the year, benefiting from a weak euro as well as from the international Expo in Milan.