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Fila offering does better than planned Athletic wear firm gets slightly higher price for its ADRs


Fila Holding SpA's $176 million U.S. stock offering went off at a slightly higher price than expected yesterday, reflecting the 100 percent 1995 gain in the stock of the athletic shoe and clothing company whose U.S. headquarters are in Hunt Valley.

Fila and its chief stockholder sold 3.15 million American depositary receipts to a syndicate of underwriters led by Merrill Lynch and Goldman Sachs, who then sold them to investors at $39 a share.

The anticipated price headed into the offering had been $38, so the upward nudge added more than $3 million to the pot. Another 1.35 million American depositary receipts were offered to investors outside the United States and Canada.

In the prospectus for the offering, the company said it would sell 1.5 million American depositary receipts and its controlling shareholder, the Italian conglomerate Gemina SpA, would sell 3 million ADR shares. Gemina now owns 54.7 percent of Biella, Italy-based Fila.

With its share of the money, management plans to spend $52 million to expand Fila's "Shop Within a Shop" program to sell its new nonathletic clothing line in U.S. department stores; open flagship boutiques in New York and in Korea, which this year passed Italy as the company's second-biggest market; expand warehouses; and add high-tech customer inventory tracking designed to restock Fila products more efficiently.

The company's biggest customer is the Foot Locker chain, which represents 28 percent of Fila's U.S. sales and 16 percent of its sales overall.

Last year, Fila held the fifth-biggest share of the U.S. athletic shoe market, barely trailing surging Adidas and faltering L.A. Gear, but well behind industry giants Nike Inc. and Reebok International Ltd.

Fila also plans to spend about $1.2 million on a cosmetics venture and to invest in a joint venture to make sunglasses.

The offering caps a year in which Fila shares dropped to $15.625 Oct. 27, 1994, and soared to $41 last Friday. The company's earnings rose by a dramatic 41 percent in the first half of 1995, which Fila attributed to the launch of a shoe line endorsed by NBA All-Star Grant Hill and an 81 percent gain in U.S. apparel sales.

Company officials could not be reached yesterday, and federal securities laws bar them from commenting on the stock immediately after a public offering. Securities firms whose U.S. analysts follow the stock also were barred from commenting.

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