* Plans to sell 50 percent stake - sources
* Offer will include new and existing shares
By Kylie MacLellan
LONDON, March 4 (Reuters) - Italian notebook maker Moleskine has begun marketing its planned initial public offering (IPO) on the Milan stock exchange, three sources close to the deal said on Monday.
The maker of thread-bound jotters based on originals favoured by Vincent Van Gogh and Ernest Hemingway plans to list a 50 percent stake, made up of both new and existing shares, two of the sources said.
Improving stock markets since the start of the year have revived interest in new share issues after years of subdued activity because of the global financial crisis.
HellermannTyton, which makes products for fastening and protecting cables, announced on Monday that it plans a share listing in London, while British home and motor insurer esure and estate agent Countrywide are also among those in the process of listing.
Moleskine, given the green light by the Milan exchange last year, is controlled by private equity fund Syntegra Capital.
Syntegra partner Marco Ariello told Reuters in June that the share offering is likely to comprise mostly existing shares and Syntegra intends to keep some of its holding after the sale to benefit from its expected future value.
Moleskine could be valued at about 600 million euros ($779 million) on a multiple of 15 times its forecast 2013 earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA).
Other listed Italian luxury goods companies are trading at 14.5 times forecast 2012 core earnings, which is above the sector average, according to a report by Bank of America-Merril Lynch in January.
The company is expected to set a price range for its shares in about two weeks’ time and complete the offering by the end of the month, two of the sources said.
Moleskine declined to comment.
Goldman Sachs, Mediobanca and UBS are running the sale. ($1 = 0.7702 euros)
Additional reporting by Stephen Jewkes in Milan; Editing by David Goodman