ANOTHER POINT ON GUCCI: France’s Pinault-Printemps-Redoute SA spent about $102.9 million to buy 1.06 million shares of Gucci Group NV, boosting PPR’s stake in Gucci to 63.28 percent from 62.2 percent, it was revealed in a Friday filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The purchases were made on the Amsterdam Stock Exchange between May 2 and May 8, so dollar figures have been converted from the euro at current exchange rates. The filing was the 13th amendment of PPR’s Schedule 13D, filed with the SEC in March 1999, when PPR became Gucci’s white knight in its battle to stave off a hostile takeover by LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton. PPR is committed to buying all Gucci shares it doesn’t own next year for $101.50 a share. PPR now beneficially owns 62,803,940 of Gucci’s common shares.
MIDEAST TRADE PROPOSAL: Add another free-trade agreement to the Bush administration’s to-do list. President Bush on Friday said the U.S. plans to work toward an FTA with the Mideast by 2013. He didn’t specify which countries would be included. This makes 10 separate free-trade deals that the administration has either begun talks on or proposed. Meanwhile, the General Accounting Office last week said negotiations for the Free Trade Area of the Americas could easily miss the target 2005 completion date.
LEVI’S COMPLETES DEBT BUYBACK: San Francisco-based Levi Strauss & Co. on Friday said it had completed its buyback of 92 percent of its 6.8 percent notes that were due Nov. 1. The company said $192.3 million worth of notes had been tendered since the offer opened April 9.