PRADA IPO APPROACHING

Byline: Samantha Conti

MILAN — Prada Group’s initial public offering is on track, despite rocky market conditions, and will probably take place in June or July, according to well placed sources here.
Prada executives appear to be zeroing in on their plans to float up to 30 percent of the company’s capital in a bid to raise what sources believe to be in the ballpark of $1.82 billion, in line with earlier estimates made when the company announced its intentions last year.
One source added that the group could officially file with Italian stock market regulators as early as this week. Prada has consistently declined to comment on the exact timing of the IPO.
Asked whether Prada planned to file this week, a company spokeswoman had no comment. As reported, the funds are expected to be used to finance new acquisitions, an expanded retail network, and, sources say, offsetting some $540 million in debts the company incurred from an acquisitions spree in 1998-99.
Credit Suisse First Boston and Banca Commerciale Italiana are sponsoring the IPO. Prada Group owns the Prada, Jil Sander, Helmut Lang and Church & Co. brands. It also controls Fendi through a joint venture agreement with LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton.
“The timing is a sign that Prada is sticking to its original plan, that it’s organized and ready to move forward,” one source said. “Besides, even if the company does not manage to raise as much money as it would have six or seven months ago, it could very well profit from an upswing in the market some months down the road. They need to take the chance now.”

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