Legler, the Italian denim manufacturer founded in 1875, is falling into Russian hands, following several years of financial hardship, including a freeze on debts to avoid bankruptcy, Sportswear International has learned.

The company is expected to be acquired by a Russian association of textile companies, one of which is Kord, founded by Stalin 60 years ago.

The official announcement will be made around March 15, in the presence of Italy’s Productive Activities Minister in Rome, and follows earlier bidding for the Legler group. The winner is a Russian textile organization that offered to pay €38 million for the group, slightly less than the initial €46 million asking price by the Italian government. The new owner has committed to buying the Legler brand, its three Sardinian facilities and one based near Bergamo in Ponte San Pietro.

According to Giuseppe Macchione, the Italian spokersperson for the Russian association, the new owner’s plan is ambitious. “They will relaunch the three plants in Macomer, Ottana and Siniscola (Sardinia) creating 1,350 jobs, [and hire back] former Legler’s employees, by 2015.”

Part of the industrial plan is to relaunch the Siniscola plant as a yarn-spinning division by 2010, and later establish a fashion school and textile manager and textile business courses under the Legler brand umbrella.

In Ottana, beginning in 2011, the company also will produce technical fabrics for the European markets and the Russian Federation and denim for the Italian, European, US and Russian markets. In Macomer, it plans to produce apparel and specifically jeanswear under the Legler brand name and for other brands. The Siniscola division, meanwhile, will be dedicated to yarn-spinning activities and the Ponte San Pietro plant to product development. The plan is bring back former customers and add new ones.

The head office of the new company will be based in Sardinia, most likely in Ottana, and launched with an initial capital infusion of €10 million.

—Maria Cristina Pavarini