PE-backed Moleskine eyes €530m IPO

Syntegra Capital, formerly a captive arm of Société Générale, could make more than 10x on the Italian listing for the notebook maker.

Pan-European firm Syntegra Capital has launched the IPO of Moleskine, the designer notebook maker.  

The firm is aiming to list 106,360,000 shares on the Milan stock exchange, at a price of between €2 to €2.65 per share. The offering, which also includes a small capital increase, could value the company at between €400 and €530 million. 

The total float would be worth just over 50 percent of Moleskine’s capital invested. A greenshoe option could later bring the total to up to 65 percent, Marco Ariello, a partner at Syntegra, told Private Equity International. 

The listing, which comes as confidence cautiously returns to European markets, is expected to bring Syntegra a return of more than 10x on its investment.

Moleskine, renowned for producing notebooks reputedly used by van Gogh, Picasso and Hemingway, was created as a brand in 1997. It was acquired by Syntegra in 2006, which then grew the business through a combination of brand consolidation, geographical expansion, and product diversification, Ariello said. 

Moleskine is 
listing on the Milan 
stock exchange

A new focus on direct sales, on top of its historic use of wholesale channels, had also allowed the company to target new customers, he explained. This included reaching out to corporate clients, digital shoppers as well as opening up proprietary stores.

Moleskine products are now distributed in 92 countries, and since late 2011 they include a range of writing, travelling and reading instruments. 

The company’s sales totalled €78.1 million last year – a 16.2 percent increase on 2011 – with 47 percent of revenues generated outside Europe. Net profits were worth €18.1 million. 

Syntegra is likely to divest its remaining stake within the next few years, Ariello said.  

“We’ve been invested in Moleskine for the seventh year now, so it is quite logical that at some point this company is going to become a truly public company.”

Moleskine was an investment from the Syntegra’s Fund III, which closed on €245 million in June 2005. The vehicle is now fully invested. 

The firm, founded in 1997, focuses on small- to mid-market buyouts in France, Germany, and Italy. It typically makes equity investments of €15 to €20 million, in companies valued between €30 and €300 million. 

Originally started as SG Capital Europe, the private equity arm of Société Générale’s asset management business, it spun out from its parent group through a management buyout in 2009.

It then rebranded to Syntegra Capital, and its funds were renamed SC Fund I, II and III. 

It is now on the road to raise Fund IV, with a target similar to its previous vehicles, and has around €450 million of assets under management.