Byline: Courtney Colavita

MILAN — Just five months after its launch, Opera SA is ready for an encore performance.
The closed-end fund backed by the Roman luxury jeweler Bulgari is about to begin a second round of fund-raising after reaching its initial goal of $121.1 million — ahead of schedule.
Fund managers — including Bulgari’s managing director, Francesco Trapani, said Thursday that Opera planned to deepen its pockets further by raising an additional $95 million by the end of 2000.
“We found that investors’ interest was enormous, especially in cities like New York, London, Paris and Geneva,” said Trapani during a small news conference here.
Based in Luxembourg, Opera’s aim is to promote “la dolce vita” by investing in medium-size Italian companies in the fashion, interior design, retail, tourism and food sectors, helping them grow, and eventually taking them public.
Trapani told WWD the fund had already contacted 18 of the 150 companies that Opera is interested in, and that its first investment would be made in the first three months of 2001.
He declined, however, to name any of the acquisition targets, saying only that they were in the wine, food, cosmetics and fashion sectors. In terms of fashion, he said that Opera was looking for smaller designers and brands that are “well-known and not so well-known.”
Trapani said Opera’s goal was to invest in four to five companies each year. Those companies, he said, must have sales of $22 million to $225 million and a “strong, solid” product. He added that Opera planned to build a stable of 15 companies in the medium term.
Bulgari, which controls half of the fund’s management, offered up the principal investment of $22.4 million. More than 20 outside investors control the remaining 50 percent of the company.

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