De Rigo has appointed Lazard and IntesaBCI as global coordinators for a secondary offering on the Milan stock exchange that is tentatively scheduled for November. It's not sure how many new shares will be issued, but probably the Milan IPO won't be much more generous than the one launched by Luxottica last November, when Leonardo Del Vecchio's family sold only 2.5 percent of the equity on the Milan Bourse.

With 77.3 percent of the total equity still in its own hands, the family of Ennio De Rigo would seem to have greater freedom of movement, but it's not really that high, assuming that it wants to keep the company under its own control. His family has pledged to transfer a 15 percent stake to Prada, its joint venture partner in Eyewear International Distribution, in two stages this year and next. Another 5 percent stake is de facto pledged to LVMH, leaving a maximum of 7.2 percent for a secondary offering if the De Rigo family wants to keep 51 percent control. Michele Arcari, the firm's managing director, has a 1.8 percent stake. The balance of 20.9 percent is floating on the New York stock exchange.

Anyhow, analysts have been relatively bullish lately about the potential for appreciation of De Rigo's stock price, which rose slightly in the past few weeks to $8.69 at Friday's close. In a very comprehensive study published late last month, UBS Warburg indicated that De Rigo's stock was undervalued, as compared to those of Luxottica, Safilo or Marcolin, and that it offered more upside potential because of a variety of factors, including De Rigo's wide-ranging agreements with Prada and LVMH, in spite of certain risks. Giving a target share price of $9.90, UBS Warburg is projecting net income of 18.9 million euros for De Rigo this year, as compared to e14.1 million in 2000.

Executives of De Rigo indicated at the Mido fair in Milan earlier this month that they were negotiating a major new licensing deal, but indicated that they were not yet talking about taking over Safilo's big Christian Dior license. Meanwhile, De Rigo has appointed Giovanni Moretti, a former executive of General Electric in Italy, as chief commercial director, a new position within the company. Separately, Jordi Fontcuberta, former finance manager of General Optica, has become general manager of the Spanish optical retail chain acquired by De Rigo early last year, replacing Ramon Màs who has left the group to go into the publishing business.