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Fashion company Prada to decide on IPO in few weeks

Prada, the Italian fashion company that has scrapped initial public offerings four times in 11 years, may decide to proceed with an IPO by the end of the month, according to sources familiar with the situation.

Prada, which is controlled by CEO Patrizio Bertelli, his wife Miuccia Prada and her family, will hold a board meeting next week to review the 2010 accounts before making a final decision on the IPO.

An announcement could follow as early as February, paving the way for a possible listing in June or July, one of the people said.

The Milan-based company plans to open about 90 stores in 2011 as demand increases, a spokesman said yesterday from Beijing, where the company will host a fashion show today.

Prada's board is expected to meet next week to review last year's numbers, though a date has yet to be confirmed, the spokesman said.

He declined to comment on Prada's IPO plans.

Prada is studying a share sale as soon as the first half of 2011, three people familiar with the situation told Bloomberg in October. Hong Kong is among markets Prada is looking at for a possible listing, the Milan-based company said at the time.

Prada, which also owns the Miu Miu, Car Shoe and Church's brands, would have a valuation of at least €7.5bn based on current estimates if it sold shares in Hong Kong, compared with between €5bn and €6bn in Milan.

While that makes Hong Kong more attractive, Prada may seek to accommodate Italian investors by selling some shares in Milan.

Full-year sales will be almost €2bn in the fiscal year ending January 31, while earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation will be close to €500m.

Intesa Sanpaolo, UniCredit and Credit Agricole are guaranteed a role in any offering as part of loan agreements with Prada.

Goldman Sachs, which worked on the luxury company's last IPO attempt in 2008, will likely be rehired.

Prada, which on January 13 opened new design studios in Hong Kong and Paris, plans to accelerate store expansion this year to compete with LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton SA, the world's largest luxury-goods maker, one of the people said. (Bloomberg)

Irish Independent