LVMH COMPLETES TRANSACTION, SELLS REMAINING GUCCI SHARES

Byline: Miles Socha

PARIS — LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton’s dreams of a green Christmas are coming true.
On Monday, the luxury giant said it netted about $1 billion in cash from selling its remaining 11.6 million Gucci shares to Credit Lyonnais as part of the settlement pact it reached with Gucci owner Pinault-Printemps-Redoute last September. Dollar figures are converted from euros at the current exchange rate.
LVMH, whose 20.6 percent stake in Gucci was the subject of two years of lawsuits and backbiting between the warring French rivals, sold 40 percent of its Gucci stake — or 8.4 percent of outstanding shares — on Oct. 22 for about $814 million. LVMH had always indicated it would sell its remaining shares to a third party. Credit Lyonnais bought LVMH’s stake in anticipation of a full public offer for Gucci at $101.50 a share in March 2004. Credit Lyonnais paid about $89.50 a share; Gucci stock closed at $84.66, up $1.36, on the New York Stock Exchange on Monday.
LVMH also disclosed Monday that it pulled in $81.4 million last Friday from the payout of an extraordinary cash dividend of $7 a share to all of Gucci shareholders with the exception of PPR.
All told, LVMH will earn about $1.9 billion in cash before the end of the year, including capital gains of about $676 million on its Gucci investment, as reported.
The battle for control of Gucci, one of the most vicious the industry has ever seen, began in March 1999 when Gucci called on PPR to be its white knight during a hostile takeover attempt by LVMH. Gucci welcomed PPR via a capital increase that gave the French retail conglomerate a 40 percent stake in the company — which was later hiked to 42 percent. In return, PPR injected $3 billion into Gucci to fund a major acquisitions drive in the luxury sector, diluting LVMH’s 34 percent stake to 20.6 percent and thwarting its takeover attempt.
Meanwhile, Gucci Group is slated to release third-quarter results today, with analysts expecting a 7 percent dip in sales and a 50 percent drop in net profits.

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