PINAULT BIDS ON FRENCH BANK

PARIS — Francois Pinault, who controls the diversified retail and distribution conglomerate Pinault-Printemps-Redoute, launched a $5 billion bid to acquire French bank Worms & Cie in an effort to expand his empire into financial services and other activities.
The bid, announced by Pinault’s holding company, Artemis, is being made through a newly created wholly owned subsidiary called Evran, the name of the town in Brittany where Pinault was born. Artemis said it has financing from lead bank ING Barings, along with Credit Agricole-Indosuez, J.P. Morgan and longtime partner Credit Lyonnais.
Artemis noted that if it were to acquire Worms & Cie, it would seek to develop the activities of the bank, like the Athena insurance company or the Compagnie Nationale de Navigation transportation concern, rather than just consider them as financial investments. Artemis said it would hold the right to withdraw its offer if Evran could not obtain at least 67 percent of Worms’s capital and voting rights.
Worms said that it would not comment on the proposed takeover offer until a French financial board approves the bid. Worms is majority owned by the Worms and Thierry families, an Agnelli family holding company and institutional investors. The rest of the shares are publicly traded on the Paris Bourse.

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