A court in Venice is set to rule on Feb. 9 whether Metzler International Italia should be sold or liquidated. The company, which is a subsidiary of the bankrupt Moulin Global Eyecare Group, has requested protection from its creditors, asking for a partial settlement with them of its debts, which amounted to f €39,885,000 for Metzler Italia alone. The argument is that this company generated profits on revenues of €26-27 million in 2004. Two other Italian sister companies, Sintesi and United Optical, are also party to the settlement request.

As we have already reported, an investment fund, SISU Capital Ltd., has taken over some of the assets of the Metzler operations in Germany, but as reported in Focus magazine, this occurred after the failure of a deal with an unnamed strategic investor.

It could not be determined whether there are still any prospective takers for the Italian business. A liquidation of the company is a possibility. Many of its sales agents are already looking for new assignments. Metzler Italia is on the market with major brands in its license portfolio, such as United Colors of Benetton, Sisley, Kappa and Robe di Kappa. The license granted by BasicNet for the two Kappa brands, which involved annual sales of about €18 million when in full swing, expired last Dec. 31. BasicNet is currently looking at possible new licensees for these brands, but it has not yet excluded a possible renewal of its license with Metzler.

Meanwhile, Moulin's provisional court-appointed liquidator in Hong Kong, Ferrier Hodgson, has sold the Asian distribution business of the group to three of its former managers - Edward Lau Tak-chuen, Allen Lee and Ian Lucas - for HK$10 million (€1,075,000-$1,288,000). The price, which covers part of the value of the inventories, took account of the fact that some of Moulin's former licenses for branded eyewear may not be extended. The liquidators are still investigating options to sell other assets and liabilities of Moulin.