Friday, September 30

Richemont investor Bluebell rejects luxury group’s arguments against board candidate

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ZURICH — Richemont investor Bluebell Capital Partners on Tuesday rejected claims by the Cartier jewelry maker that its candidate for the luxury company’s board would not act independently.

“The reasons indicated by Richemont’s Chairman Mr. Johann Rupert against the designation and appointment of Mr. Trapani are specious and unreasonable,” the London-based investment firm said in a statement, adding Trapani had ceased to hold “any executive position, directorship and advisory role” at Richemont rival LVMH in 2016.

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Richemont on Monday urged shareholders to vote against appointing Bluebell co-founder Francesco Trapani to its board at the annual general meeting on Sept. 7, citing his links to LVMH.

Bluebell pointed to Richemont’s recent appointment of a former Hermes executive as an independent director and said a Swiss corporate governance code recommended a cooling off period of only three years.

It also said Richemont’s board lacked an independent director with “core skills in hard luxury” and said Trapani’s expertise in luxury watches and jewelry would be “an invaluable asset” to Richemont.

Bluebell said Trapani was no longer representing Bluebell because he had stepped down as chairman at the end of last year.

South African billionaire Johann Rupert controls Richemont via non-listed B-shares which represent 9.1% of the capital, but 50% of the voting rights, which means he gets the final say on who gets elected to the board.

Richemont shares were 1.9% lower at 0806 GMT. (Reporting by Silke Koltrowitz and John Revill Editing by Paul Carrel and Mark Potter)