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Versace Posts ’03 Loss As Young Allegra Beck Begins Learning Curve

Versace’s annual meeting saw the debut of Allegra Versace Beck as major shareholder and the repayment of its $123 million bond.

MILAN — Versace’s shareholders’ meeting here Monday to approve year-end results that included a net loss of $32.6 million marked two more pivotal moments in the history of the fashion house: the debut of Allegra Versace Beck as its major shareholder and the repayment of its $123 million bond.

But Beck’s arrival offered a slight twist — while her mother Donatella and her uncle Santo voted to sign off on the numbers, the 18-year-old Beck abstained. But Beck’s abstention meant her vote did not register and as a result the accounts still were approved, since Donatella Versace owns 30 percent of the firm and Santo Versace 20 percent.

The results showed there is still a lot of work to be done in sorting out the house of Versace. The company reported that net losses ballooned in 2003 to 26.5 million euros, or $32.6 million at current exchange, compared with a loss of 5.8 million euros, or $7.1 million, in 2002. Sales fell 12 percent to 403 million euros, or $495.7 million, from 483 million euros, or $594.5 million, in 2002. Sales were hit by the appreciation of the euro, the impact of SARS and the Iraqi war.

“Versace is one of the most important and well-known world brands in the luxury sector and we are engaged in growing it and developing it,” Santo and Donatella Versace, the respective chairman and creative director of the company, and Beck said in a joint statement. “Now, with the timely reimbursement of the bond, the group can dedicate itself entirely to the completion of strategies and long-term plans that shareholders share for the future of the company.”

This is the first time a statement by the company includes Beck. Also a first, Beck took part in the shareholders’ meeting on Monday. Beck took control of her 50 percent stake in the company, inherited from her late uncle Gianni Versace, upon her 18th birthday on June 30.

While Versace officials have said Beck will have little day-to-day involvement in the company, instead preferring to focus on her upcoming university studies in the U.S., her abstention on Monday indicates she is taking seriously her new responsibilities as Versace’s largest single shareholder.
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