Paris Prosecutor Probes Printemps Sale

The preliminary inquiry will look into accusations by labor representatives opposed to the deal.

Facade of Printemps in Strasbourg.

PARIS — The Paris prosecutor’s office has opened a preliminary inquiry into the sale of French retailer Printemps, in response to a complaint from labor representatives, a spokeswoman said on Friday.

This story first appeared in the August 5, 2013 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

The probe was launched on June 28, before last week’s announcement that the sale had been finalized.

Qatari-backed investment fund Divine Investments SA, or Disa, said Wednesday that it has acquired a 70 percent stake from Deutsche Bank’s Deutsche Asset & Wealth Management, previously known as RREEF, and the remaining 30 percent from Italy’s Borletti Group. The planned deal was originally revealed in February.

The transaction was greenlighted by France’s Competition Authority on July 22, Disa said.

Some union officials had criticized the financial conditions of the deal as opaque and called for the public prosecutor to launch a probe into the transaction.

The prosecutor’s office has asked the financial brigade of the judicial police in Paris to outline the general terms of the case as a first step, the spokeswoman said, saying the unions accused the principals in the sale of wide-ranging offenses.

“There are a lot of gray areas in the facts that they have detailed to investigators,” she noted.

“This is an investigation that will have no impact on the civil and commercial aspects of the deal. It will in no way cancel, suspend or delay the sale from a legal standpoint,” she added.

Officials at Printemps were not immediately reachable for comment.