* Moncler prices new listing at top of range
* Values it at slight discount to Prada, premium to LVMH, Richemont
* Institutional tranche subscribed 31 times
By Isla Binnie and Astrid Wendlandt
MILAN/PARIS, Dec 11 Luxury down jacket maker Moncler priced its stock market listing at the top of the range on Wednesday after strong demand from investors attracted by the brand's global growth prospects.
Moncler said institutional investors had put in bids worth more than 20 billion euros ($27.6 billion), or 31 times the number of shares on offer.
The listing in Milan, set to raise at least 681 million euros for the selling shareholders, will be the biggest by a European luxury company since Prada raised $2.1 billion through a Hong Kong offering in June 2011.
The maker of $1,200 quilted goose down jackets hopes to replicate the success of rivals such as Salvatore Ferragamo , whose shares more than trebled since their 2011 debut, while Prada's have nearly doubled since their debut.
The top of the 8.75-10.20 euro per share price range values Moncler at 2.55 billion euros, and about 20.5 times next year's earnings, while Prada is trading on 23 times and both Richemont and LVMH are on about 16.5 times.
The European average price to earnings ratio in the luxury sector is around 17 times, up from 15 times in the summer of 2012.
"It is a good moment to sell as the market environment is strong and multiples are relatively high at the moment," said a London-based financial adviser who specialises in luxury goods.
Moncler's sales are expected to rise 16 percent this year and a further 18 percent next year to 670.9 million euros, according to a document used to market the listing to investors by joint bookrunner Banca IMI.
Prada forecasts sales will rise 13.5 percent this year and more than 14 percent next year, analysts polled by Reuters said.
Banca IMI said Moncler's margin on earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) should remain stable at 31 percent in the coming years, putting it in line with Prada, which is forecast to post an EBITDA margin of 33.2 percent next year, analysts said.
Demand for Moncler contrasts with other European IPO candidates over recent weeks. Italy's M&G Chemicals postponed a planned Hong Kong listing on Monday and freight forwarding company Savino del Bene scrapped a Milan listing on Dec. 5.
Initial public offerings (IPOs) have raised $32.1 billion this year, more than double sold last year, according to Thomson Reuters data.
Analysts expect luxury sector valuations will rise next year due to demand from tourists, an economic recovery in Europe, solid trading in the United States and a more modest recovery in China.
HSBC expects sales of luxury goods to rise 9 percent in 2014 and 2015, against 10 percent this year, 11 percent in 2012 and 20 percent in 2010.
"We're going to see much more balanced growth globally (in the luxury sector) than we've seen in the past," said Ann Steele, European equities fund manager at Threadneedle Investments, part of a team that manages over 38 billion euros.
"It's not just the Asian pool, we're seeing better demand in the United States and in Japan and we've also seen a pick-up from travellers in Europe."
By some estimates the sector's growth rate is more than twice that of global gross domestic product and outstrips forecasts for Europe's retail and cosmetics sectors, whose annual sales growth expectations remain below 5 percent.
Moncler President Remo Ruffini, who bought the brand in 2003 and grew annual sales from 45 million euros to 489 million euros in 2012, will be the largest shareholder, with 32 percent.
Current shareholders, headed by French investment firm Eurazeo, alongside private equity group Carlyle are set to profit from the deal, which is made up entirely of existing shares.
No new investors in the company received a stake of more than 2 percent, a source close to the deal said.