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By Francesca Landini
MILAN, April 16 (Reuters) - Chinese conglomerate Weichai Group, which owns a near 87 percent stake in Ferretti, plans to list the luxury yacht maker but has still to decide a timetable for the deal, the Italian firm's chief executive said on Tuesday.
"The listing is an opportunity," Ferretti CEO Alberto Galassi said. "Our Chinese investor sees it as a natural evolution of its investment."
He added that the formal process for the initial public offering had not yet started, and that it could be difficult to complete the deal by year-end.
"It is up to shareholders to decide, and then we will execute," Galassi said on the sidelines of the company's 2018 results presentation.
Weichai controls the group via its majority stake, with Piero Ferrari, the son of founder of the sports car maker with the same name, holding the rest. The Chinese investor is expected to reduce its shareholding with the IPO.
Sources said last week Ferretti would name Barclays , BNP Paribas and UBS as global coordinators for a share sale.
For the yacht maker, a listing on the Milan bourse would be a return to the stock market after the group was delisted in 2003 and acquired by private equity firms, before being bought by Weichai Group in 2012.
Under the Chinese ownership, the maker of Riva and Pershing yachts paid off its debt and returned to profit in 2016.
Last year the group posted a 7.5 percent rise in its value of production, a proxy of revenue. Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) fell 10 percent to 53 million euros, hit by the decision to drop some old models.
Ferretti said it had completed the acquisition of the luxury sailboat maker Wally, increasing the brands in its portfolio to eight.
The chief executive said the company would build a special speedboat under its Riva brand to be sold at an auction to raise money for the reconstruction of Paris cathedral Notre-Dame, which was devastated by fire on Monday.
"We are small and we are Italian but the Riva brand owes its good fortune to the French Riviera, so we have decided to build a special Riva speedboat to raise money to contribute to Notre-Dame's rebuilding," Galassi said.
The boats are worth between 600,000 and 800,000 euros each, he said. (Editing by Jan Harvey)