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Richemont CEO opposes board appointment of former rival

Shareholders of Swiss luxury goods juggernaut Richemont are being urged to vote against the appointment of activist investor Bluebell Capital Partners to the company’s board.

Richemont chairman Johann Rupert has asked shareholders to reject Bluebell’s nominee Francesco Trapani's appointment to the board ahead of the company’s shareholders’ meeting on 7 September, citing links to rival Moet Hennessey Louis Vuitton (LVMH).

“There is no need to change our board,” Rupert said in a statement, in response to Bluebell’s demand for a revamp of the board and a push to appoint Trapani as the representative for Class A shareholders.

In 2011, Trapani was named CEO of Bulgari when it was acquired by LVMH. He served on LVMH's board of directors from 2011 to 2016 where he acted as an adviser to CEO and Chairman Bernard Arnault.

“He is not independent, as he has a long history of a close relationship with the LVMH group and its main shareholder,” Rupert noted.

“Until this year, Richemont’s board did not propose to elect one specific director to represent the holders of its ‘A’ shares, as it considers that directors must act in the interest of all shareholders and not only of one class of them.”

Instead, the group is proposing to elect existing board member Wendy Luhabe to represent the class A shareholders based on her extensive experience in the business and that the directors for the A and B groups should be equal in number.

According to a report from Reuters, Bluebell has a CHF105 million ($AUD159 million) stake in Richemont and claims to have been involved in the company for a year and a half.

Based on Swiss law, this level of investment provides Bluebell with the sufficient shares in Richemont to appoint a representative on the board.

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