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By
Reuters
Published
Aug 30, 2009
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Mariella Burani shares halted; future unclear

By
Reuters
Published
Aug 30, 2009

MILAN, Aug 31 (Reuters) - Shares in Mariella Burani (MBFG.MI) were suspended on Monday 31 August with the loss-making Italian fashion group facing an increasingly uncertain future.


Mariella Burani autumn-winter 2009/2010 in Milan - Photo: PixelFormula

Trade in the stock was halted for an indefinite period given the "markedly uncertain situation regarding (the company's) possible economic, financial, corporate and asset-related developments", the Milan stock exchange said in a statement.

Mariella Burani, which makes womenswear and leather goods, was not available for comment.

On Sunday 30 August, the company swung to a net first-half loss of 142 million euros ($204 million) as revenues fell and it undertook a restructuring, adding it would convene a board meeting soon.

Italy's luxury sector has been hit hard by the economic crisis as the downturn saps demand for high-end clothes and accessories.

Mariella Burani's financial report also included hefty asset writedowns and net debt widened to nearly 480 million euros.

"The board ... has considered corrective actions to resolve the situation of financial tension and significant uncertainties relative to (the group's) ability to continue operating," it said in a republished results statement on Monday 31 August.

Shares in the firm's leather goods unit Antichi Pellettieri (AP.MI), which also posted a net loss, were suspended limit-down on Monday 31 August and were indicated down 21 percent.

SECTOR WOES

Peer IT Holding (ITH.MI), owner of Milan fashion house Gianfranco Ferre, sought special administration in February. It is in the hands of government-appointed commissioners.

Mariella Burani is reorganising after posting a net loss last year and selling stakes in jewellery makers to focus on apparel and leather goods. In May, it requested a standstill debt agreement with banks as part of a restructuring programme.

The group has said it was calling a shareholder meeting to approve a mandate for a capital increase of up to 100 million euros, to be partly subscribed by its major shareholder. The Burani family controls more than 70 percent of the group.

"The key point now is for auditors to certify the results because I challenge anybody to put money into the capital increase without knowing the situation," an analyst said.

Exane BNP Paribas analysts said in a note the results were worse than expected. They cut their target price to 1.4 euros from 1.6 and rated the stock 'underperform', adding: "We see no positives on the horizon for MBFG".

(Additional reporting by Simone Bagnacani; Editing by John Stonestreet and Dan Lalor) ($1 = 0.6964 euro)

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