PARIS — François Pinault, the French tycoon whose PPR owns Gucci Group and the retailer Printemps, was not included in a $525 million out-of-court settlement reached hours before a fraud trail that opened in Los Angeles on Tuesday.

A spokeswoman for Pinault declined comment, but the entrepreneur is believed to be pursuing his own negotiated deal in the ongoing Executive Life affair.

The case stems from French bank Credit Lyonnais’ acquisition of the troubled California insurer at a time when it was illegal for banks to own insurance companies.

Pinault is alleged to have broken the law by covering up for Lyonnais after his family holding company, Artemis, bought Executive Life’s junk bond portfolio and made handsome profits.

Tuesday’s agreement was with a French government agency called CDR, which is handling the affair for the formerly state-owned Lyonnais.

Sources said the deal did not include all parties involved, excluding not only Pinault but also the MAAF insurance entity.

The implications for Pinault remain unclear, and he could still face litigation in the civil suit, which claimed some $3.7 billion in damages. 

Pinault has denied any guilt, but he last year paid $185 million to settle a federal case, also linked to Executive Life.

This story first appeared in the February 16, 2005 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.