CREMEL LEAVES PPR INTERACTIVE FOR FRENCH FINANCE CABINET JOB

PARIS — French retail and distribution giant Pinault-Printemps-Redoute’s plans to be a major Internet player have hit a snag, at least temporarily.
Bruno Cremel, the president of PPR Interactive, the Internet pole of PPR, left the group Friday to join the cabinet of France’s new minister of finance, economy and industry, Laurent Fabius. Cremel, 34, was named assistant chief of staff and is in charge of the industrial and public sectors in addition to economic development, explained a spokeswoman for the minister. Cremel started his new job Monday.
“This was a position Cremel was offered and it’s the kind of job you don’t turn down,” explained a PPR spokeswoman, who assured that a successor to Cremel would be named, possibly as soon as Wednesday. She noted that Francois-Henri Pinault, son of controlling shareholder Francois Pinault, remains in charge of overall Internet development for PPR Groupe.
Cremel is no stranger to civil service. Prior to joining PPR last year, he had worked with the French treasury since 1996. Coincidentally — or at least, that’s how a PPR spokeswoman characterized the situation — PPR chairman Serge Weinberg headed Fabius’s cabinet from 1981 to 1982, when Fabius was France’s budget minister, and the two men have remained friends since.
Separately, the elder Pinault, who already owns French newsweekly Le Point, among other titles, has backed out of two media investments. First, Pinault reportedly was outbid by rival Bernard Arnault, chairman of LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton, for the French art auction magazine Conaissance des Arts (see related story, this page). Second, after extensive research into the idea, Pinault has decided against launching a French daily newspaper.