PRADA CHIEF DENIES PLANS TO GO PUBLIC

MILAN — Patrizio Bertelli says “no,” but the industry still thinks “perhaps.”
On Monday, the chief of the Prada Group emphatically denied speculation in these columns that he might be planning to seek a stock market listing for the company. “I categorically exclude any intentions to quote Prada on the stock exchange,” Bertelli said in a statement. “There is no connection between Jil Sander AG’s planned exit from the stock exchange…and Prada’s going public.”
As reported, Bertelli plans to delist Jil Sander AG and has offered shareholders approximately $320 per share for the 102,500 nonvoting shares currently traded on the Frankfurt stock exchange.Bertelli has said the $320 was 35 percent higher than Jil Sander AG’s average price over the past three months. The stock hit an all-time low on Feb. 4, plunging to $200 just after Sander left the company. The high was $315, reached in September.
Observers said the move, if successful, would clearly consolidate Bertelli’s power within the German company — which he already controls — and might be a step toward taking the entire Prada Group public.
Despite Bertelli’s denial, industry sources and financial analysts in Europe continue to say that seeking an IPO would be a logical — if not inevitable — move for Prada at some point in the future. The company is growing at breakneck speed, and analysts say it needs funds to grow.
Bertelli went on a spending spree last year, adding Helmut Lang, Jil Sander, Church & Co. and a stake in Fendi to his stable. As reported, there is another deal in the works — a medium-size Italian company — and sources here say Bertelli’s file of potential acquisitions is busting at the seams.
“In my opinion, they are the number-one candidate in the luxury sector to go public,” said one financial analyst here, who declined to be identified. “Their sales are growing quickly, and if they want to continue on their buying spree, they’re going to need the cash. I’m sure the banks are fighting to take this company public.”

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