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FRANCE: Taittinger holds talks with Frere over pact

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The Taittinger family is in talks with Belgian financier Albert Frere in a bid to secure a shareholder pact, which will guarantee continued family control of the Champagne and hotels group.

Frere bought into Taittinger in January 2001 after the company successfully fought off attempts by US-based corporate raiders, Asher Edelman and Guy Wyser-Pratte, to take over its hotels arm, Societe du Louvre. Frere, also on the board of Champagne and luxury goods group, LVMH, is thought currently to hold 19% of Societe du Louvre and 15.3% of its majority shareholder, Taittinger.

According to reports, the agreement Taittinger is seeking would allow the family to retain control of the company and would also streamline the group's complicated structure, which has often been the cause of criticism from analysts.

Insiders have said the restructure is unlikely to involve the disposal of any assets despite the fact that some doubts have been raised over the future of Societe du Louvre's budget hotels operation. Societe du Louvre's other assets include top luxury hotels such as the Crillon and the Lutetia in Paris and the Martinez in Cannes, and Baccarat crystal. Taittinger posted a net profit of €26.9m in 2001, 11% down from €30.1m in 2000.


Companies: LVMH Group

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