After having said in August that it had put an end to a search for a financial partner due to the absence of offers, Safilo has recovered its senses and mandated its chief executive Roberto Vedovotto to find a financial or industrial partner ready to recapitalize the ailing company. Safilo is believed to be under pressure by its creditor banks to find a partner and there is speculation that the equity funds Carlyle and Apax could be examining the situation.
The group continues to negotiate with its creditor banks the rescheduling of its senior loan and has drafted a list of non-strategic assets that could be sold or used as collateral for further loans. Safilo dismissed rumors that it could sell its house brand Carrera and said that the sale of the brand Smith Optics, which produces ski helmets, ski goggles and eyewear, is possible but highly improbable. Nevertheless, there are rumors of talks to sell Smith to an equity fund JC Partners.
This leaves the group's Mexican, Australian and Spanish retail networks as the most likely candidates in the case of a disposal program along with some real estate assets. Safilo has previously said that the upmarket Solstice retail chain remains strategic.
The company believes that the value of assets on the block is significantly higher than Safilo's financial needs over the next 12 months and the disposals would not significantly impact its activity.
Only 3T, the holding company owned by the Tabacchi family that controls nearly 40 percent of Safilo, announced that it closed 2008 with a €3.0 million net profit, compared with a €2.7 net loss in 2009, thanks to the €9.2 million Safilo paid in dividends on its 2007 results. As of January 2009, Only 3T's entire stake has been pledged as collateral to the holding company's creditor banks Banca Popolare di Vicenza and Intesa Sanpaolo.
In the meantime, Safilo has renewed for 10 years, until Dec. 31, 2020, a license agreement to design, produce and distribute prescription frames and sunglasses under the Pierre Cardin brand as well as produce eyewear for the Pierre Cardin Evolution collection. The bank Banca Leonardo estimates that the licenses represent about 1-2 percent of Safilo's annual sales.