Allison no longer belongs to IT Holding, the Italian apparel group owned by Tonino Perna. Silvio Vecellio Reane, who remains as chairman and CEO of Allison, and 6 other members of the management have taken over 10 percent of the shares. The balance has been sold to Paladin Capital Partners, an investment company owned by the Italian Carisma group and related to Bain & Company Italia, a leader in strategic and organizational consultancy that is particularly strong in the luxury goods sector.

IT Holding has confirmed that Allison, a company that it had acquired in 1999, will remain the eyewear licensee for the group's own fashion brands ? Gianfranco Ferré, GF Ferré, Malo and Extè. Allison's brand portfolio also includes Anna Sui, Cerruti, John Richmond, Les Copains, Romeo Gigli, Vivienne Westwood and ZeroRH, among others. IT Holding had already decided last January to divest its perfume division to concentrate on its own apparel brands and on casual licensed clothing.

Allison, which is presenting its first Missoni Eyewear collection at the SILMO show tomorrow, has now added a 5-year license for the Dunhill brand, replacing the recently liquidated Airess. Its first Dunhill collection, which will feature some gold- and titanium-plated models, will be introduced at next May's MIDO fair along with a new licensed line named after Mercedes cars.

The acquisition of Allison was made on the basis of a valuation of €62 million, including the assumption of debt worth €57 million, which was partly related to heavy investments for the development and production of the Ferré branded line. Carisma has already paid €4 million, and the remaining €1 million will follow at a later stage. After a dip in turnover in 2003, Allison had a brilliant first half this year, with sales up by 52.9 percent to €44.5 million and pre-tax profits of €288,000.

Allison's debt, which represents 67 percent of a projected €85 million in turnover for this year, weighed heavily on the accounts of IT Holding, particularly in view of the fact that a €175 million bond issued by Ferré Finance, a finance company controlled by ITH, comes to maturity in May 2005. As of last June 30, the group's consolidated liabilities amounted to €288 million, the majority of which - €232 million - was accounted for by the bond and by Allison's €57 million debt.

IT Holding has now announced that it will issue an 8-year bond of €185 million to refinance the one that expires in May. The new bond will be issued to institutional investors on the Luxembourg market and has already been rated B+ by Standard & Poor's. A new medium-term loan of €85 million will replace a loan of the same amount granted by a chain of banks led by San Paolo IMI.