Italia Independent shares surge on Milan debut

Shares in Italia Independent, a fashion and lifestyle company founded by Lapo Elkann, one of the heirs to the billionaire Agnelli family fortune and brother of Fiat chairman John, rose as much as 15 per cent on their debut in Milan underlining the still buoyant demand for luxury stocks.

Mr Elkann, 35, founded Italia Independent with friends Andrea Tessitore and Giovanni Accongiagioco in 2007, focusing mostly on eyewear. Its signature product is sunglasses made entirely of carbon – a design inspired by the yacht sailed by Mr Elkann’s grandfather, the Fiat patriarch and style-setter Gianni Agnelli.

The share rise valued the company at nearly €70m. Nearly 40 institutional investors invested in the sale of nearly a third of the group. Half of these were foreign funds, according to the founders.

The debut follows listings in Milan by cobbler-to-the-stars Salvatore Ferragamo and luxury cashmere brand Brunello Cucinelli, which have both seen their share price double over the past 18 months. Premium winter wear brand Moncler plans to list in Milan later this year.

In an indication of his ambitions, Mr Elkann, 35, said it had given him “humongous pride” to list on Milan’s smaller stocks AIM index although his longer term aim was the blue-chip index where Italy’s Luxottica, the world’s largest maker of eyewear is listed.

Mr Tessitore said the aim was to use the funds raised to expand in France and Spain, the US and Latin America. Italia Independent also has a distribution deal in the Middle East with Rivoli, partly owned by Swatch Group.

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