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Ermenegildo Zegna shows luxury stocks are very much in fashion

The Italian brand has joined the NYSE after a deal with a US special purpose acquisition company

Zegna's chief executive Gildo Zegna (right) rings the Opening Bell of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) on 20 December. (AFP)

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Italian luxury group Zegna went public in New York on Monday after completing a merger with a US special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) in a deal with an enterprise value of $3.1 billion.

The initial market capitalisation of the combined group will be $2.4 billion, Zegna had said in a statement.

Also read: A business lesson from Ermenegildo Zegna

The Zegna family will have a 66% stake in the group resulting from the merger with Investindustrial Acquisition Corp, a SPAC sponsored by private equity firm Investindustrial and chaired by former UBS chief executive Sergio Ermotti.

The deal, announced in July, is the latest example of an Italian family-owned fashion business attracting outside investors to fund expansion, boost marketing spending and compete with bigger players, after the industry was hit hard by the coronavirus crisis.

In media interviews ahead of the market debut, Zegna's chief executive Gildo Zegna, the third generation of the family to run the company since its founding in 1910, said that organic growth was the priority, though he did not rule out small acquisitions of the group's suppliers.

Zegna, founded as a textile company and now a leader in luxury menswear, said the listing delivered gross proceeds of $761 million, mostly from Investindustrial and other participants in the deal.

As part of the overall transaction, the luxury group raised $169 million out of $402.5 million initially amassed by the SPAC as 58% of its investors took their money back, mass redemptions have been a common feature for this kind of deal in recent weeks.

A backstop deal with outside investors helped fill most of the gap, with the final enterprise value of $3.1 billion just short of the $3.2 billion initially mooted.

Over the past few weeks several companies, including Grab Holdings and BuzzFeed, that merged with SPAC entities to go public have seen their shares tumble, as investors pull the rug out from under the stocks hyped in Wall Street's frenzied blank-check deals this year.

The average redemption rate has more than doubled to 58% in the fourth quarter from a year earlier, data from Dealogic showed, as many companies fall short of investors' lofty expectations. 

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