Benetton denies report of merger talks with Inditex

Italian clothing retailer Benetton Group SpA (BNG.MI) denied on Tuesday a report in an Italian website about possible merger talks with Spain's retail giant Inditex ITX.MI, owner of the popular Zara label.

"We categorically deny the report," a Benetton spokesman said.

Shares in the Italian retailer, who reports preliminary 2011 sales on Tuesday, were up 7.9 percent at 6:01 a.m. ET, after rising strongly the day before.

"Shares are up on the rumors about Inditex, certainly not about the results figures they're publishing later today, which won't be good," a Milan-based analyst said.

Italian website "Il Nuovo Mercato" cited speculations from indirect sources.

(Reporting by Antonella Ciancio, Michel Rose)

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