Sat, Jun 25, 2011 - Page 10 News List

Prada Hong Kong debut lackluster


A Prada staff member, left, tries to remove placards that were posted on the front window of one of their shops in Hong Kong by a women’s rights group staging a protest accusing the Italian firm of sexual discrimination.

Photo: AFP

Italian luxury fashion house Prada yesterday made a lackluster stock market debut in Hong Kong amid choppy global markets and waning investor interest after a string of blockbuster initial public offerings (IPO).

The family-controlled firm’s stock opened just 0.25 percent higher at HK$39.60 compared with its IPO price of HK$39.50.

After a little bit of intraday movement, it ended the session where it started at HK$39.60, while Hong Kong’s benchmark Hang Seng index rose 1.9 percent.

The Milan-based company nevertheless trumpeted its listing debut in Hong Kong — increasingly a favored gateway for foreign companies trying to tap Chinese capital.

“We are the first Italian luxury brand company to list here and this is a landmark event for the Hong Kong stock exchange,” chief executive Patrizio Bertelli said.

“I am positive the Greater China market will be an interesting market for luxury good brands. The first signs are very good,” he told reporters.

Hong Kong Stock Exchange chairman Ronald Arculli lauded the listing as a “good start” for Prada and said the exchange was doing its best to attract quality companies to list in the territory, despite volatile global markets.

The Italian group, which includes the Prada, Miu Miu, Church’s and Car Shoe brands, is the latest high-end fashion brand to tap the huge Chinese market, the world’s fastest-growing market for luxury goods.

However, weak market sentiment had pushed Prada to price its Hong Kong shares at the lower end of its price range and shrink the size of its highly anticipated IPO, raising a lower-than-expected US$2.14 billion.

Prada sold 423.2 million shares after floating 20 percent of its stock. Before the IPO, the brand had been 95 percent owned by the Prada family and executives.

Outside the stock exchange, Prada received some unwanted publicity when two dozen women’s activists staged a protest accusing the group of sexual discrimination and chanted “Only the devil wears Prada! Shame on Prada!”

The protest stemmed from the case of Rina Bovrisse, a 37-year-old former Prada manager in Japan who claimed she was unfairly fired in March last year after being told by a company executive that she was “ugly” and didn’t have “the Prada look.”

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