ZURICH — Richemont has asked shareholders to reject a candidate proposed by Bluebell Capital Partners for election to the luxury group’s board at its upcoming annual general meeting.
Bluebell is seeking a board seat for Francesco Trapani, the former head of Italian luxury label Bulgari and a Bluebell co-founder at the meeting due to be held on Sept. 7.
The activist fund manager wants Cartier-owner Richemont to concentrate on jewelry and watches, saying that could double its share price in the medium term.
“After careful consideration, the Board recommends to vote against the designation of Bluebell’s candidate as representative of the holders of ‘A’ shares, and against the election of that person to the Board,” Richemont said on Monday.
Instead, Richemont proposed independent director Wendy Luhabe as representative of those shareholders.
“The Board is further recommending to vote against the changes to the Company’s articles of incorporation proposed by Bluebell,” it added.
Bluebell, which last year triggered a management overhaul at French food group Danone, also wants to increase the minimum number of board members at Richemont to six and to have an equal number of representatives of ‘A’ and ‘B’ shareholders on the board.
Richemont is controlled by Chairman Johann Rupert, who owns all the non-listed B-shares, which represent 9.1% of the capital, but 51% of the voting rights in the company, which also makes IWC and Piaget watches.
Bluebell has been invested in Richemont for 1-1/2 years and had a stake worth 105 million Swiss francs ($109 million), it told Reuters last month. Richemont has a market capitalisation of almost 59 billion francs, according to Refinitiv Eikon data.
($1 = 0.9609 Swiss francs) (Reporting by John Revill Editing by Christopher Cushing and Mark Potter)