The website mergermarket.com said that Safilo has attracted the attention of investment funds such as CVC, Candover, Civen and Permira ever since its share price fell to around €2.0 from the €4.9 price of its initial public offering held in December 2005. If any of them steps in, the world's second-largest eyewear producer could go private once more.

Vittorio Tabacchi, the group's chairman, has rejected the offers but could change his mind if the group's results suffer in the future, according the report. The Tabacchi family's holding company Only 3T owns 37.7 percent of Safilo, the world's second-largest eyewear group.

Largely in line with its previous preliminary financial report for 2007 (see previous issue of EWI), Safilo has reported a final net profit of €51.0 million, up by 36.2 percent from the previous year. Sales grew by 6.1 percent to €1.190 billion, with wholesale sales rising 3.8 percent to €1.121 billion and retail up by 64.4 percent to €69.7 million.

By region, revenues rose by 2.3 percent to €163.3 million in Italy, increased by 12.7 percent to €407.3 million in the rest of Europe, grew by 1.2 percent to €423.8 million in the Americas and increased by 15.7 percent to €149.5 million in Asia. However, revenues dipped by 12.6 percent to €46.5 million in the rest of the world. .

The company reiterated its 2008 guidance of a 4-5 percent increase in sales based on a euro-to-dollar rate of 1.47, representing a 7 to 8 percent increase at constant currency rates. The EBITDA margin is forecast at around 15 percent of sales, compared with 14.7 percent in 2007, and the net profit margin is forecast at 4.5-5.0 percent, against 4.3 percent. Net debt is expected to remain in line with the €515 million booked at the end of 2007.

As reported in the previous issue of EWI, Safilo released last month a business plan to increase its size and profitability. It aims to raise sales by an annual 7-8 percent to 2012 and increase its EBITDA margin to 17 to 18 percent of sales from 14.7 percent in 2007. Retail is expected to increase its share in total sales to at least 20 percent in 2012 from 6 percent in 2007 thanks to an boost in the store network to 700-800 units, a big jump from about 270 currently.