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Morgan Stanley Mum on Suit

PARIS — Morgan Stanley declined all comment Tuesday on the disclosure that LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton is seeking an additional 182.9 million euros, or $235 million at current exchange, in damages related to its ongoing case against the...

PARIS — Morgan Stanley declined all comment Tuesday on the disclosure that LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton is seeking an additional 182.9 million euros, or $235 million at current exchange, in damages related to its ongoing case against the investment bank’s equity research.

Last year, Morgan Stanley was ordered by the commercial court here to pay LVMH 30 million euros, or $38.6 million, for “gross misconduct” related to the writings of its luxury goods analyst, Claire Kent.

As reported, the court appointed an expert, Didier Kling, to quantify material damages for what the French luxury firm described as a premeditated and systematic effort to denigrate LVMH while favoring rival Gucci, which receives financial advice from Morgan Stanley.

Kling has yet to table his tally, but LVMH’s claim it is owed 182.9 million euros more was revealed by Morgan Stanley in filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission related to its 2004 annual report. Financial News, an online service, unearthed the tidbit Monday.

Morgan Stanley is appealing the French court’s decision, denying any wrongdoing and standing by Kent’s research during the years in question, 1999 through 2002. In light of the legal proceedings, however, it has suspended its coverage of LVMH.

The appeal, set in motion last June, is now in a period of submissions and rebuttals that is expected to take the case into the fall. A date has not yet been set for a court hearing, and none of the materials exchanged between the combatants is public.

For its part, LVMH disclosed in its 2003 annual report its intentions to bring forth supporting evidence of “extremely substantial” damages caused by Morgan Stanley.

An LVMH spokesman declined to comment Tuesday.