Milan, January 8 - Moleskine moved a step nearer to stock-market flotation on Tuesday, when the famous Italian notebook and diary producer was given the first green light for an initial public offering (IPO) by the Milan bourse. The company says its notebook is "the heir and successor" to the sort used by artists and writers such as Vincent van Gogh, Pablo Picasso and Ernest Hemingway. These hardy pocket-sized notebooks, which have a tough cardboard cover with an elastic band to kept them closed, became scarce in the 1980s after the small French bookbinder that traditional supplied them went out of business. But a small Milanese publisher brought them back to life in 1997 and the firm has gone from strength to strength ever since. The name Moleskine was coined by the English novelist and travel writer Bruce Chatwin, who repeatedly complained when the traditional models became hard to find and started buying up all the notebooks he could find before his death in 1989. The company is reportedly aiming to launch on the stock exchange in the middle of this year. In 2011 it generated revenues of 63 million euros, a huge increase on the 40 million registered just two years before that.