* Ferragamo could be first Italian IPO of 2011
* Group valued around 1.5 bln euros-analysts
* Aims to raise around 400 mln euros, below Prada-funds
* European peers PE average 21 times 2011 earnings
* Price range expected on Friday-sources (Adds details, comments, background)
MILAN, June 9 Italy's luxury goods maker Salvatore Ferragamo said on Thursday it had received clearance from market regulator Consob for what could be the first initial public offering in Milan this year.
The Tuscan family-run maker of fine leather shoes, valued by analysts at around 1.5 billion euros ($2.19 billion) is joining luxury goods peer Prada in tapping equity markets to fund expansion in fast-emerging markets.
Ferragamo, whose shoes have been worn by movie stars such as Marilyn Monroe and Audrey Hepburn, could raise up to 400 million euros by selling 25 percent of its shares, three fund managers told Reuters on Thursday. Prada's IPO on the Hong Kong stock market is valued at up to $2.6 billion.
The company, which first considered floating in 2008, has not publicly disclosed the exact timing for its IPO nor details of how much it wants to sell.
The European market for new listings has had a difficult year, with more than 15 deals pulled, and many of those that were executed have fallen below their offer price. [ID:nLDE7520FD]
Swiss-Italian biotech group Philogen, autoparts distributor Rhiag and upscale outerwear maker Moncler all shelved their IPO plans in Milan in the last few months.
Ferragamo could also delay its listing if markets remain nervous, a source told Reuters on Wednesday, but others close to the offering said it had seen good interest from investors during pre-marketing and still intended to go ahead.
The price range could be announced on Friday, according to two sources close to the deal.
"The IPO will be going ahead as planned and the road show will be next week," one of the sources said. Another source said the roadshow for investors should start in London on Monday.
PRELIMINARY VALUATION BELOW PEERS-FUNDS
The group could be valued on par with top luxury peers LVMH (LVMH.PA), Tod's (TOD.MI) and Burberry (BRBY.L), according to an unpublished research report by JP Morgan, one of the bookrunners for the IPO. [ID:nLDE7510ZZ]
However, the fund managers told Reuters a preliminary valuation given to investors indicated the Ferragamo offer could be valued at around 17.5 times forecast 2011 earnings.
They said this could be partly due to lower profitability than that of peers, as well as an already significant exposure to emerging markets.
British luxury goods group Burberry is traded at 23.2 times its forecast 2011 earnings, LVMH at 19.8 times, and Tod's at 23.8 times, according to an analyst research report by Mediobanca (MDBI.MI) seen by Reuters. At the top range, Prada's IPO is being priced at 27 times projected 2011 earnings.
Ferragamo, which returned to profit last year, is expected to post revenues of around 1.1 billion euros in 2013, with Asia as a key driver for growth, analysts said.
Italian banks Mediobanca and Intesa Sanpaolo's Banca IMI, as well as U.S. investment bank JP Morgan are global coordinators and joint bookrunners for the offering.