Hal Holding, the Curaçao-registered holding company that controls Safilo through Multibrands Italy, cut its stake in the eyewear company to 49.84 percent on Jan. 11 from the 50.75 percent interest it held after the completion of an issue of new shares worth nearly €150 million.
Before the cash call carried out in December, Multibrands had a 41.6 percent stake in Safilo. But it had pledged to subscribe its share of the capital increase and to take up any unexercised rights.
Meanwhile, a Paris-based asset management company, BDL Capital Management, increased its interest in Safilo to 14.996 percent from 9.46 percent previously. There was speculation about why BDL was building up a stake. However, the firm said that it is not acting in concert with other investors nor does it plan to take over Safilo. It also indicated that it would not call for changes to Safilo's board or to its auditing company until their mandates expire.
The latest stock exchange filings also showed that Vittorio Tabacchi, a former chairman of Safilo and a member of the founding family, saw his and his family's stake drop to 1.77 percent from a previously known level of 7.70 percent. They also indicated that Brandes Investment Partners held a stake of 2.78 percent on Jan. 7, down from 10.53 percent on Dec. 20.
Meanwhile, Safilo's chief executive, Angelo Trocchia, started talks with the unions on Jan. 9 about the issue of overcapacity as Kering Eyewear scales down a production agreement with the group for its Gucci styles. However, the most significant bellwether for Safilo's cost-cutting and production adjustment plans will be LVMH's decision on whether to renew the Dior license expiring at the end of 2020.
Safilo is widely expected to have clearer indications of the French luxury goods conglomerate's intentions in the second half of this year.
In the first meeting with the unions, Safilo discussed the transfer of the warehouse for returned products located within the Longarone manufacturing site to the group's distribution center in Padua. The move concerns 43 workers in Longarone. The next meeting between the management and the unions is scheduled for Feb. 4.
Safilo is currently suffering an estimated overcapacity of 15 percent at its Italian plants, largely due to the planned reduction in the production of Gucci glasses. The company is believed to have sought to increase the volume guaranteed by its strategic product partnership agreement signed with Kering by one million items per year, but the French group, which owns Gucci, refused.
After losing the Gucci license at the end of 2016, Safilo entered a four-year supply agreement with the French conglomerate. Under the deal, Safilo was the exclusive producer of Gucci eyewear until the end of 2018. From this year on, the minimum quantities purchased by Kering have been halved.