NEW YORK — PPR’s at 60 percent and growing.

This story first appeared in the March 25, 2003 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

With the purchase of just under 1 million shares of Gucci Group stock between Feb. 24 and last Thursday, Pinault-Printemps-Redoute SA now owns 60.6 million shares of Gucci, or 61.06 percent of the company. PPR held 59.33 percent of the luxury house after purchases made in the four weeks leading up to Feb. 24.

The disclosure of the most recent purchases came in a Schedule 13D filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission on Monday. As reported, PPR has pledged to buy all of the Gucci shares it doesn’t own in 2004 for $101.50 each. It can acquire up to 70 percent of the firm before then.

Through two affiliates, PPR bought 579,953 shares of Gucci on the Amsterdam Stock Exchange for a total of $53.9 million, at an average of $92.93 a share, and 417,254 shares on the New York Stock Exchange for a total of $39.4 million, averaging $94.34 a share. In total, PPR spent $93.3 million for 997,207 shares of Gucci, or an average of $93.52 a share, about $8 less than would have been paid at the 2004 buyout price.

The same shares purchased at $101.50 a share would have cost PPR $101.2 million, so the transactions saved the Paris-based retail and distribution firm $7.9 million. In the case of the shares bought in Amsterdam, dollar figures have been converted from the euro at the current exchange rate. Complicating comparisons in purchase prices, both actual and projected, the euro traded at about $1.06 throughout the day Monday, but is below its recent high of $1.10.

The stock purchases were made through PPR’s Societe Civile de Gestion Financiere Marothi and Scholefield Goodmann BV subsidiaries in France and The Netherlands, respectively.

Gucci shares closed down $1.08, or 1.1 percent, at $94.49 on the New York Stock Exchange Monday as investors digested disappointing news about the war in Iraq after optimism drove the markets up on Friday and much of last week.

PPR became Gucci’s largest shareholder in 1999 when, emerging as a white knight in the luxury firm’s efforts to avoid a hostile takeover by LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, it invested $3 billion in Gucci. Since then, it has filed 11 amendments with the SEC detailing changes in its ownership of Gucci.

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