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Elf Aquitaine Staying Mum On Bidermann

PARIS -- Elf Aquitaine chairman Philippe Jaffre had little to say at a press conference here last week about the company's plans for its stake in Bidermann International.<BR><BR>As noted, it was expected that Jaffre might announce it was disinvesting...

PARIS — Elf Aquitaine chairman Philippe Jaffre had little to say at a press conference here last week about the company’s plans for its stake in Bidermann International.

As noted, it was expected that Jaffre might announce it was disinvesting itself of its Bidermann holdings, which represent about 13 percent of Bidermann SA, the holding company that controls the French apparel manufacturer, and 6 percent of its U.S. subsidiary, Bidermann Industries.

The press conference focused on the privatization plan for the government-controlled Elf Aquitaine, which will be selling shares to the public, and its preliminary 1993 results. Jaffre made no statement on the plans for the Bidermann holdings.

Jaffre did emphasize, however, his interest in focusing Elf Aquitaine on its core activities of oil, chemicals and health. Part of that strategy, he explained, would include selling off nonrelated, or nonperforming assets.

Money-losing Bidermann certainly fits into that category. For 1993, Elf took provisions of $101.5 million (600 million francs at current exchange rates) against depreciated investments. This includes Bidermann.

The French financial press has reported that Elf may have valued its Bidermann investment at close to nothing.

A spokesman for Elf said the company could not comment because of the privatization campaign launched this week.

Maurice Bidermann, chairman of the company bearing his name, could not be reached for comment.