BERLIN — The incessant Tchibo family feud may finally be over, but the uncertainty concerning Beiersdorf’s future remains as strong as ever.

Tchibo, the Hamburg-based coffee and retail chain, owned by the Herz family, holds a 30 percent stake in Beiersdorf. While Tchibo has long signaled its interest in buying part or all of German insurance giant Allianz’s 43.6 percent Beiersdorf stake, family infighting had brought decision making to a standstill.

On Monday, Tchibo announced that former Tchibo chief Günter Herz and his sister, Daniela Herz-Schnoeckel, were leaving the company. The two siblings received $4.46 billion, or, in local currency, 4 billion euros, in cash for their joint 39.6 percent interest in the company. Dollar figures have been converted from the euro at current exchange.

Tchibo is now in the hands of the three remaining Herz brothers. Michael and Wolfgang each possess 34.5 percent, while Joachim holds 15 percent. The remainder is held by mother Ingeborg, with 15 percent, and the Max-Herz-Stiftungor foundation, with 1 percent. Tchibo also has a new board member, Reinhard Pöllath, who, unlike his predecessor, Jens Odewald, is reputedly allied with Michael and Wolfgang Herz.

Analysts and observers, however, are divided as to how the new setup at Tchibo will affect the shareholder structure of Beiersdorf. Whereas one leading German financial journal declared that Günter and Daniela Herz’s departure would now ease the way for Tchibo to increase its Beiersdorf interest from a minority to majority holding, another stated it “remains unclear whether Michael, Wolfgang and Ingeborg Herz want to retain, increase or even sell their Beiersdorf shares.”

In the past, it has all come down to money, Tchibo reportedly not being willing or able to meet Allianz’s desired price. And with Tchibo’s war chest now $4.46 billion, or 4 billion euros, poorer, the company may not have the ready funds to do so. It was estimated that Tchibo had a bit more than $5.55 billion, or 5 billion euros, at its disposal from the 2002 sale of its Reemtsma tobacco interest. A further 20 percent stake in Beiersdorf would require around $2.22 billion, or 2 billion euros, observers say.

At this point, it’s anybody’s bet who’ll win this latest round of poker for Beiersdorf, a company many describe as a “pearl of the industry.” Procter & Gamble and L’Oréal remain high on the list of the most favored suitors, whereas analysts say that Henkel, Unilever and Kao, with whom Beiersdorf has a cooperation, couldn’t come up with the $13.33 billion, or 12 billion euros, required for a takeover. Given the current Beiersdorf shareholder structure, any interested party would be required by German law to make a bid for the entire company.As for Tchibo, chairman of the board Dieter Ammer said Monday the new structure at Tchibo “allows us in the future to pursue goals we have gone after in the past.” That was taken as a signal by some that the company still intends to increase its Beiersdorf share from 30 to 50 percent, though others speculate the family could decide to sell its blocking minority if the price was attractive enough. Then, too, Günter Herz could now be the final joker in the Beiersdorf game, as his personal worth has been considerably boosted and he is the man under whom Tchibo first acquired and later held onto its Beiersdorf shares.

Ammer reiterated the company’s interest in acquiring a majority stake in Beiersdorf in the latest edition of Die Welt, a leading German daily. However, he emphasized that “only at a fair price is Tchibo prepared to increase its holding to achieve a majority stake.” Tchibo and Allianz have “extremely different estimations as to the fundamental worth of Beiersdorf,” he said.

On the stock exchanges, Allianz’s Beiersdorf holding is currently worth about $4.92 billion, or 4.3 billion euro. — Melissa Drier

Mattiolo’s Men’s Scent

MILAN — The trend for more masculine men’s scents just got more muscle —?with Italian designer Gai Mattiolo’s new men’s fragrance.

Gai Mattiolo Man’s, the designer’s first entry into the men’s scent category, was created from the idea of a fragrance that’s sensual and strong.

“I wanted a men’s scent that wouldn’t go unnoticed — a scent that women would also want to use, and above all a scent that is strong and determined and romantic,” said Mattiolo. “It’s a fragrance that’s alive and intense, with a strong nose of bergamot and ginger.” Mattiolo, who has been designing women’s wear for 10 years, also has four women’s fragrances in his scent portfolio.

Gai Mattiolo Man’s will be launched in Europe at the end of September and rolled out to Greece, the Baltic countries and Russia. It is slated to hit the U.S. by spring 2004.Created by Dragoco, the scent has top notes of bergamot, red pepper, ginger and green leaves, middle notes of Florentine iris, violet and cedarwood, and base notes of amber, patchouli and musk. The cylindrical, heavy glass bottle — topped by a black metallic lid — was designed by Serge Mansau. Done in dark brown, the bottle’s color intensifies toward its base.

“The cylindrical form of the bottle is meant to represent a column of authority and solemnity,” Mattiolo said.

Reinforcing the masculine appearance of the scent, the advertisement features jeans-clad, tanned model David Honorell sitting in front of a boxing ring. According to the designer, the ad represents the man of today — one who is not only a fighter but has a sensitive side.

“I selected David after a long casting,” said Mattiolo. “I wanted a man that was strong and decisive and who spoke with surliness; I wanted to make an impression with a man who is a fighter but behind that a man who’s romantic and sensitive.” While the advertising plan is not completely firmed up, Mattiolo did say that it would be a print-only campaign with placement in selected men’s and women’s magazines worldwide.

The Gai Mattiolo Man’s range will include a 30-ml. eau de toilette natural spray priced at 22.50 euros ($25.45); a 50-ml. eau de toilette priced at 32 euros ($36.20) and a 75-ml eau de toilette priced at 43 euros ($48.64).

The ancillary range includes a 75-ml. aftershave lotion and a 75-ml. aftershave emulsion, 29 euros ($32.80) each; a200-ml shampoo and shower gel, 19 euros ($21.49), a 100-ml. deodorant spray, 20 euros ($22.62) and a 75 ml. deodorant stick, 19 euros ($21.49).

While Mattiolo wouldn’t comment on projected first year sales, industry sources estimate that Gai Mattiolo Man’s first year wholesale sales will top 10 million euros ($11.31 million). Dollar figures have been converted from the euro at current exchange. — Stephanie Epiro

Claiborne Names New VP

NEW YORK — Liz Claiborne Cosmetics has appointed David Hirschler as vice president of marketing.Hirschler comes to Claiborne with extensive experience in the packaged goods industry; his previous posts include marketing positions at Colgate Palmolive and Unilever HPC. He will report directly to Art Spiro, president of Liz Claiborne Cosmetics, and starts this week.

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