PARIS — Another day, another lawsuit in the war over Gucci Group.
On Thursday, Pinault-Printemps-Redoute said it also plans to appeal the March 8 decision in Dutch court that ordered an investigation into its strategic partnership with Gucci, which said Wednesday that it would file its own appeal. The court’s decision was considered a victory by rival LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton in its quest to break up the alliance, as reported in these columns.
PPR said it “believes that there are insufficient grounds ” for the decision made by the Enterprise Chamber of Amsterdam’s Court of Appeal. Like Gucci, PPR will file its case with the Dutch Supreme Court. Both companies have until May 8 to file their appeals, according to a PPR spokeswoman.
LVMH, which owns a 20.6 percent stake in Gucci, responded by suggesting PPR is grasping at legal straws. In a statement quoting liberally from the Enterprise Chamber’s 14-page decision, LVMH said the “substantive terms of the PPR transaction+raise doubts as to whether the justifiable interests of Gucci’s shareholders were sufficiently taken into account.”
LVMH also said the “facts established by the Enterprise Chamber are not subject to appeal in the Dutch Supreme Court, nor is the discretionary decision to order an investigation.”
The PPR spokeswoman declined to discuss the grounds of its appeal.
LVMH has repeatedly said it would like to see PPR launch a full bid for Gucci, or see the partnership canceled altogether. It was a custom-made share issue for PPR, designed to thwart a hostile takeover by LVMH in 1999, that diluted LVMH’s initial 34 percent stake in Gucci to its current 20.6 percent. The two French groups, headed by rival entrepreneurs Francois Pinault and Bernard Arnault, have been engaged in an intensive legal battle ever since.
As reported in WWD, the court-appointed investigators could dissolve the partnership that has been the platform for Gucci’s luxury acquisitions drive. The probe is focused on Gucci’s management practices during the five months between January and May 1999, during which time Gucci launched an employee stock- option plan and later named PPR its white knight.
On Thursday, PPR said it is “prepared to provide its full cooperation with any court-ordered inquiry,” but said it will continue “to defend vigorously its strategic alliance with Gucci, which it believes was entered into in compliance with Dutch law.”
In other Gucci news, the group’s ceo, Domenico De Sole, and creative director, Tom Ford, will be featured in the cover story of Time magazine’s European edition. The issue comes out Monday. The story is written by Time’s Lauren Goldstein, and discusses several of Gucci’s pending deals with Stella McCartney and Nicolas Ghesquiere, first reported in WWD. Nigel Parry shot the cover photo of Ford and De Sole.