CARTIER’S NEW CEO: Compagnie Financiere Richemont AG has named Bernard Fornas as chief executive officer of its Cartier unit, replacing Guy Leymarie who stepped down this week, as reported. Fornas, who joined Richemont nine years ago, was ceo of Baume & Mercier, which is also controlled by the Zug, Switzerland-based luxury goods conglomerate. Prior to joining Baume & Mercier in 2001, he was marketing director of Cartier. Fornas will be replaced by Michel Nieto, marketing and communications director at Baume & Mercier. In addition to Cartier and Baume & Mercier, Richemont owns Van Cleef & Arpels, Dunhill, Montblanc, Lancel, Jaeger-LeCoultre, Piaget, IWC, Vacheron Constantin, A. Lange & Söhne and Officine Panerai.

GALERIES NUMBERS: French retail group Galeries Lafayette said third-quarter consolidated sales before taxes increased 8.5 percent to $1.26 billion from $1.16 billion a year ago. Most of the gains came from its credit activities and its Europa Quartz, Croisette, Telemarket and Promosta stores. Department store sales for the nine months inched up 0.8 percent to $1.72 billion. Dollar figures are converted from the euro at current exchange rates.

PPR CREDIT UPDATE: Pinault-Printemps-Redoute, the retail giant with a majority stake in Gucci Group, confirmed Wednesday that it is in "exclusive discussions" with Credit Agricole to sell its financial services arm, Finaref, in a transaction that would be valued at more than $2.46 billion. The divestiture would be completed in two stages, with 61 percent to be sold in January 2003 and 29 percent in January 2004. PPR plans to retain a 10 percent stake in the operation. PPR is also in exclusive negotiations to sell Facet, the consumer credit division tied to its Conforama furniture chain, to French bank BNP Paribas for about $843 million. PPR is seeking to divest its credit and financial services activities to reduce its $6 billion debt and soothe investor jitters over its commitment in 2004 to pay $4.8 billion for the 47 percent stake in Gucci it does not already own.

NO DICE: A spokesman for Versace SpA dismissed as "unfounded" rumors in Milan that Santo and Donatella Versace are planning to shuffle shares to "create a more stable and stronger structure" for their company. Chief executive Santo Versace owns 30 percent of the company’s shares, his sister Donatella owns a 20 percent stake, and her 16-year-old daughter, Allegra Beck, owns a 50 percent stake.

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