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Wednesday, 23 May, 2001, 15:53 GMT 16:53 UK
Zara's stunning share debut
Zara model
Investors are dedicated followers of fashion
Shares in Inditex, the Spanish retail company that owns the Zara fashion chain, jumped more than 26% on its stock market debut in Madrid.

In what is expected to be the biggest initial public offering of shares in a Spanish company this year, the company was valued at about 9.2bn euros ($7.9bn, 5.6bn).

The 23% stake in Inditex that was offered to investors was heavily oversubscribed, despite the global weakness in share prices.

I like the company. It's well run and has good growth prospects, but everything has its price and this is over the top

Pilar Pastor
fund manager
Mapfre Inversiones
The stock was worth 14.70 euros ($12.63, 8.87) when it was launched at 0930 GMT and immediately jumped to 18.60 euros - a 26.5% rise.

"We bought shares, and now we have sold some. A 20% rise is not bad at times like this," said Altae Banco fund manager Jesus Gonzales.

By 1530 GMT the stock had slipped back to trade at 17.86 euros, 21.5% above its launch price.

"I like the company. It's well run and has good growth prospects, but everything has its price and this is over the top," said Mapfre Inversiones fund manager Pilar Pastor.

"This is first-day overheating. Unsatisfied demand has boosted the price, but I wouldn't buy now," she said, adding that she would only invest in the share if it fell back to its launch price.

European giant

Inditex is one of Europe's largest clothing retailers, rivalling companies such as H&M of Sweden and Gap of the US.

The company is owned by the 65-year-old Spanish businessman Amancio Ortega who, following the float, has become the richest man in Spain.

Inditex has five chains with more than 1,000 shops in 33 countries.

The sale of the stake in Inditex is designed to restructure the group to prepare for the retirement of its chairman and founder, Mr Ortega.

Mr Ortega slashed his stake to 60%.

Zara's contribution

Zara contributes about 80% of Inditex's revenues, which have grown by 27% per year on average since 1998.

The company's operating margin is similar to its competitors at about 15%.

"Inditex has a lower gross margin on sales, because they produce their clothes in Europe, while their rivals garments are made in Asia, but this is offset by Inditex's minimum marketing costs," said ING Barings retail analyst Javier Valverde.

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