Moleskine CEO on IPO: Investors Have Nothing to Fear

Moleskin notebooks
Emil Kalimullan | Flickr | Getty Images
Moleskin notebooks

The chief executive of upmarket notebook maker Moleskine told CNBC that the company was robust enough to withstand political instability in Italy and the digital age as it launched its initial public offering (IPO) on the Italian stock market on Wednesday.

Shares in Moleskine rose on its market debut in Milan, defying broad stock market weakness in the first major stock listing in crisis-hit Italy this year.

The maker of slick, black notebooks based on originals used by Ernest Hemingway and Bruce Chatwin is the first new company to join the main Milan stock market since cashmere brand Brunello Cucinelli's listing almost a year ago.

The stock was up 2 percent at 2.34 euros a share from 2.30 euros the company had set for its 488 million euro ($626.5 million) IPO.

The stock was outperforming a 0.5 percent fall in Italy's broad share index, underscoring the appeal that Italian luxury brands retain among investors even though the country is struggling with a deep recession and is currently in a political limbo after inconclusive general elections.

Arrigo Berni, chief executive of Moleskine, told CNBC on Wednesday that investors had nothing to fear from political turmoil in the country.

"We are a country with thousands of years of history and many, many times we have come close to situations that we have been able to extricate ourselves from, and we'll be able to do it again," he told CNBC's "Worldwide Exchange."

"I hear the concerns that Italy doesn't have a government," said Raffaele Jerusalmi, CEO of Italian stock exchange Borsa Italiana said earlier on Wednesday. "Therefore, it is even more important to have a market flotation at this moment of uncertainty."

Moleskine offered 106.3 million shares, including 12 million new ones, meaning just over 50 percent of the company's shares are now traded on the market.

Berni said investors were interested in a company with global sales and defended the size of the float.

"We decided to go with this kind of float because we felt it was important to get market liquidity at the beginning of our journey in the stock exchange," he said.

Private equity funds Syntegra Capital and Index Ventures, alongside founder Francesco Franceschi and management, will pocket most of the 244 million euros generated by the sale.

Demand for the shares has come from investors in Italy, Europe, Britain, the United States and Asia, the company said.

Berni said his company's ability to "nurture the creative dimension of the brand" was "the best insurance that we can provide our investors with about our future" and attributed the success of the company in a digital age to the need for people to be reassured that "we're still human beings."

- Reuters contributed to this report