Italy's Clessidra could buy up to 35 pct of Harmont & Blaine

MILAN, June 20 Fri Jun 20, 2014 12:59pm EDT

MILAN, June 20 (Reuters) - Italian private equity firm Clessidra could take a stake of around a third in Harmont & Blaine to help the Naples-based firm expand ahead of a planned bourse listing, the head of the high-end casual wear maker said on Friday.

Clessidra entered in March exclusive talks for an investment in Harmont & Blaine, famous for its collar shirts branded with a dachshund. Clessidra Vice-Chairman Francesco Trapani said last week talks were ongoing and could be finalised over the summer if things worked out.

"There shouldn't be any obstacles for that time frame to be confirmed," Harmont & Blaine CEO Domenico Menniti said, adding the possible investment would be for a stake of between 30 and 35 percent via the issue of new shares.

Menniti spoke after a showcase of the Spring/Summer 2015 collection, dominated by white and turquoise as the brand tries to emphasise its Mediterranean roots.

Harmont & Blaine had revenues of 71 million euros in 2013, which Menniti said would rise to just above 100 million euros this year.

The company is targeting sales of 200 million euros by the end of 2017, with the share of revenues made abroad rising to 60 percent of the total by then from 20 percent currently.

"Our goal is a bourse listing at the latest in 2018 but I am betting on 2017," the CEO said.

Russia, where Harmont and Blaine has recently inaugurated two stores with a third opening planned this year, will become the group's second-biggest market by the end of 2015, Menniti said, dismissing worries about the impact of the Ukraine crisis.

He pointed instead to the difficulties the Italian economy faced after a two-year recession that brought unemployment to record levels.

"The situation is bad in terms of confidence and spending capacity," he said.

"Italy is not Milan, but even in Milan without the Russians, the Chinese and a little bit the Arabs, I think few shop signs would still be up in the luxury shopping district." (Reporting by Mark Potter)

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