The heir to Prada’s fashion empire said rising geopolitical tensions made the plan to list its Milan headquarters even more important to maintaining “bridges” between Europe and China more than a decade after it went public in Hong Kong.
The Financial Times first reported last year that the $19.3 billion group, which owns brands including Prada, Miu Miu and Church, was exploring a dual listing to take advantage of European investors, but the process was delayed by initial regulatory hurdles. Prada shares listed in Hong Kong in 2011.
Speaking at the Financial Times’ Business of Luxury Summit in Monaco, Lorenzo Bertelli said he was “optimistic about the dual listing even if nothing has been decided yet,” without elaborating on the timing.
“When we were listed there [in Hong Kong] We saw this as a way to connect Europe with Asia, as we see now [the dual-listing in Milan] As a way of building bridges between East and West at a time of rising global tensions,” said the 35-year-old Bertelli.
European luxury groups are benefiting from booming sales in China following Beijing’s decision to lift all Covid-19 restrictions. But they also face calls from European leaders such as EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen to “de-risk” their businesses in the country amid greater tensions over the fate of Taiwan.
Bertelli said he also saw threats within China linked to rising inequality. Of China and Western markets, he said, “The greatest danger to well-being is the extreme social tension between rich and poor.”
People close to the family said Bertelli, who is the head of corporate social responsibility for the group founded by his parents Patrizio Bertelli and Miuccia Prada, has been an important advisor to his parents on strategic decisions for years.
Bertelli, who has been with the group since 2017, said there is little doubt he will eventually succeed his father. “Whether it’s three, four, or five years from now, it doesn’t matter. The [family and management] We will realize the right time,” he said.
He said the former race car driver was ready for the “challenge” but was not under any pressure. “I risked my life when I was driving, so that was a different kind of pressure, and I always know if you work hard, the pressure goes away a little bit because you know you did your best.”
On Monday, he hinted at heated family discussions about the company. “My mom and I are Taurus, and so is my brother and dad are Aries, so it’s a challenging environment,” said Bertelli, adding, “Working with your parents is not something I would recommend to anyone.”
Bertelli, who studied philosophy and has a passion for sports and politics, added that he supported the recent appointment of CEO Andrea Guerra so he could “learn from someone outside the family.”
Prada announced in January that Guerra, a former CEO at eyewear maker Luxottica, would immediately take over from group executives Patrizio Bertelli and Miuccia Prada to facilitate the succession transition.
Patrizio Bertelli remains Group President while Miuccia Prada is Co-Creative Director of her eponymous brand alongside Raf Simons. The group also appointed its first external CEO for the brand, Gianfranco Datis.
Industry experts and investors see Lorenzo Bertelli as one of the few bigwigs in the Italian fashion industry who can create a homegrown luxury conglomerate to compete with the likes of Kering and LVMH in France.
“We are looking but when the time comes we will have to see what is left that makes sense for us to buy him,” said Bertelli.