VALEXTRA DEAL NEARS: Sources in Milan say Valextra is close to finalizing a deal to sell a stake to London-based private equity fund Neo Capital and that former Bally chief executive officer Marco Franchini is in pole position to helm the luxury accessories firm. A company spokesman had no comment on the speculation on Thursday.

As reported in WWD last month, Valextra is the latest Italian company mulling an initial public offering as chairman and ceo Emanuele Carminati Molina said he was discussing the future of the brand with a number of private equity funds, including Neo Capital, to expand Valextra and eventually go public.

This story first appeared in the March 8, 2013 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

After seven years, Franchini left Bally in spring 2009 for personal reasons after orchestrating a major overhaul, tapping Brian Atwood as creative director and returning the company to the black.