IIF, Rainbow put hold on IPOs


ROME -- The unpredictable fluctuations of the Italian Stock Exchange on Wednesday claimed two cinema industry victims, as the weekly report from regulator Consob showed that plans to take two film production companies public have been delayed.

Both Italian-International Film, best known as IIF, and animated content producer Rainbow, had filed to go public during the first part of the year. Though both companies say they still intend to make the move at some point, indications are that recent market turbulence spooked them into holding off, at least for now.

"These companies are not alone," Hildebrandt and Ferrar chief economist Javier Noriega said. "Most companies looking to go public wait for a more stable market for that."

With the delay, the soonest the companies can go public will be in June.

The Milan-based Italian Stock Exchange -- celebrating its 200th anniversary this year -- has been one of the most volatile markets in Europe this year. The exchange's blue-chip index finished 1.9% higher Wednesday, the 19th time this year it gained or lost more than 1.5% in a single session.

Despite Wednesday's surge, the main index lost 13.9% of its value in the first quarter alone, with investors reacting to slow economic growth in Italy, the credit crisis in the U.S. and the strong euro.

The two companies postponing their plans have very different profiles.

Fulvio Lucisano -- who still runs the company -- founded IIF 50 years ago. IIF started out handling the Italian distribution for films from American International, but also has produced more than 400 films, including the 2006 smash "Notte Prima Degli Esami" (The Night Before Finals) -- the top-grossing Italian film two years ago -- and the follow-up, "Notte Prima Degli Esami 2," one of Italy's top 10 grossing films in 2007.

Rainbow, meanwhile, burst onto the scene in the last two years as the company behind the hit children's animated series "Winx Club" and the 3D "Winx Club -- The Secret of the Lost Kingdom" feature film.

Franco-Tunisian producer Tarak Ben Ammar bought a 10% stake in the company as it developed its plans to go public and expand the "Winx" franchise, including the development of a "Winx" theme park near Rome.