PARIS — Talk about Nestlé’s participation in L’Oréal has bubbled up again here. But Françoise Bettencourt Meyers, granddaughter of the French beauty giant’s founder, has helped squelch the conjecture by reiterating her family’s support for L’Oréal.
A report in the U.K.’s The Daily Telegraph on Monday referred to gossip involving Nestlé speaking informally to Liliane Bettencourt, L’Oréal’s largest shareholder with 30.8 percent of its capital and daughter of its founder, about an acquisition of her stake in the company. “Traders believe Liliane Bettencourt…has asked Nestlé to put its offer in writing before she makes a decision,” the newspaper reported.
Bettencourt Meyers on Wednesday published a statement with her husband, Jean-Pierre Meyers, through her lawyer, Olivier Metzner, reiterating the existing agreement that states Nestlé (which has an approximately 30 percent stake in L’Oréal) is committed to not increasing its share in the company until six months after Bettencourt passes away.
As reported, other stipulations in the shareholder agreement include that Nestlé is free to sell its stake in L’Oréal and to take a majority share in the firm if Bettencourt gives her permission. Further, if Nestlé’s holding in L’Oréal is raised to more than one-third, it would be obliged to launch a takeover bid, according to French law.
The statement also discussed the fact that the fate of the Bettencourt’s holding in L’Oréal and the “control” of the company is not linked in any way to the ongoing court proceedings Bettencourt Meyers began involving Bettencourt and the photographer François-Marie Banier or to its outcome. As reported, Bettencourt Meyers alleges Banier’s “exploitation of weakness” of her mother, who gave him assets valued at almost 1 billion euros, or $1.37 billion at current exchange.
“Especially and finally, Françoise Bettencourt Meyers already expressed on numerous occasions her profound attachment to L’Oréal, which the president of the enterprise, Sir Lindsay Owen-Jones, had the occasion to emphasize publically,” the statement continued. “She also said, and repeats yet again today, her wish and that of her family to continue — with responsibility and commitment — the development of L’Oréal in the future.”
A Nestlé spokeswoman, meanwhile, said Wednesday the company does not comment on market rumors, and Bettencourt’s lawyer could not be reached for comment.
L’Oréal stock on Tuesday dipped 1.4 percent to 78.53 euros, or $107.72. On Monday, it closed up 2.7 percent to 79.67 euros, or $109.29.
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