GUCCI FIRES BACK AT LVMH

MILAN — The war of words continues.
Gucci on Friday sharply refuted statements, made last week by rival LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton, regarding a $3 billion cash injection from strategic partner Pinault-Printemps-Redoute. Gucci chairman and chief executive Domenico De Sole branded LVMH’s assertions as “simply false,” and vowed to forge ahead with his acquisitions drive — using the cash supplied last year from PPR.
As reported in these columns, LVMH claimed that, in the wake of the Dutch Supreme Court’s decision on Wednesday to annul the ruling that sanctioned the alliance between Gucci and PPR, injunctions banning Gucci from spending the money from PPR were automatically back in place.
LVMH has also asserted that Gucci’s ESOP (Employee Stock Option Plan), a poison pill Gucci enacted last year to fend off hostile advances from LVMH, was also suspended.
De Sole told WWD the injunctions LVMH was referring to were provisional, and that they expired on May 27, 1999. He added: “The Supreme Court’s decision says nothing about provisional remedies. On such an important matter, it seems only logical that if the court meant those measures to be reinstated it would have so indicated.”
As reported, a spokesman for the Dutch Supreme Court said the Supreme Court ruling had no immediate effect on the Gucci-PPR alliance.
Last Wednesday, the Dutch Supreme Court annulled the Gucci-PPR ruling and asked the Enterprise Chamber of Amsterdam’s Court of Appeals — the court that last year gave the green light to the alliance — to reconsider its decision, due to a procedural irregularity.
Over the past year, Gucci has used part of the $3 billion cash infusion it received from PPR to buy Yves Saint Laurent, Sanofi Beaute, Italian luxury shoe and accessories maker Sergio Rossi and the French jeweler Boucheron. Gucci still has more than $2 billion available for acquisitions, said PPR chairman Serge Weinberg late last month.

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