Mariella Burani Fashion Group (MFBG) and its leathergoods unit Antichi Pellettieri (AP), which are both listed on the Milan stock exchange, have each appointed financial advisers to examine the terms of a planned merger. The details of the transaction could be released within a couple of weeks.

MBFG is believed to have appointed Mediobanca and AP is thought to have hired Equita.

AP, which owns the shoe maker Baldinini, closed 2008 with a 32.5 percent increase in revenues to €397.7 million, thanks to strong growth from its footwear business.

The company’s sales of footwear rose by a strong 66.0 percent to €163.4 million, while apparel sales increased by 17.1 percent to €26.4 million. Handbags and accessories were up by 16.0 percent to €207.9 million. Sales in Italy rose by 11.4 percent to €129.7 million and foreign revenues increased by 20.6 percent to €221.2 million. Royalties and other revenues totaled €46.8 million.

Operating profit before amortization (Ebitda) increased by 59 percent to €76.0 million, Ebit (operating profit before interest) was up by 47.3 percent to €52.8 million, and net earnings rose by 45.5 percent to €38.4 million.

As a group and including the results of AP, MBFG booked a 3.9 percent rise in sales to €700.0 million but ended up with a net loss of €55.2 million compared with a €16.8 million profit a year earlier. The loss stems from the write-down of assets. The clean-up is expected to herald the sale of non-strategic assets with the jewelry business seen as a possible candidate for disposal.

Both MFBG and AP decided to omit paying a dividend this year. AP also indicated that sales in the first two months of the year were up by 7 percent compared with the same period last year, while MBFG’s revenues rose by 2 percent during the period.