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Morgan Stanley Pushes for LVMH Suit Disclosures

PARIS — Like the war in Iraq, the $100 million lawsuit LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton launched last November against Morgan Stanley will probably take longer than many people originally thought.<br><br>Lawyers from the two sides are set...

PARIS — Like the war in Iraq, the $100 million lawsuit LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton launched last November against Morgan Stanley will probably take longer than many people originally thought.

Lawyers from the two sides are set to meet today to wrangle over questions first confronted at a court hearing last month. Investment firm Morgan Stanley, accused of bias in its equity research on LVMH and luxury rival Gucci Group, wants the court to compel LVMH to confirm that it’s not sheltering new evidence.

Morgan Stanley also wants LVMH to pinpoint what’s germane to its case among 1,900 pages of documents filed as evidence on a CD-ROM.

Those requests are slated to be heard in the office of magistrate Jean-Pierre Eck, not in the courtroom. Eck could deliver an immediate verdict, but is more likely to set a date in several weeks to announce his decision, according to a source familiar with the proceedings.

As reported, the suit centers on the writings of Morgan Stanley analyst Claire Kent, whom LVMH charges with conflict of interest in her ratings and comments on LVMH. Morgan Stanley’s investment bankers advise Gucci on acquisitions and other financial matters.

The CD-ROM is believed to contain boilerplate statements that are among the most contentious points in the suit. Although removed by Morgan Stanley under threat of legal action, the statements noted that Morgan Stanley had a director in common with LVMH and that it would be seeking compensation from the French group for investment banking advice.

This story first appeared in the April 1, 2003 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.