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Richemont chairman disapproves of activist shareholder’s board proposal

By Rachel Douglass

Aug 15, 2022


Richemont media centre

Johann Rupert, the chairman of luxury conglomerate Richemont, has slammed an activist shareholder’s proposal to nominate former Bulgari CEO Francesco Trapani to its board.

Fund manager Bluebell proposed that, alongside the board election, the company designated Trapani as representative of all holders of the company’s ‘A’ shares.

In a letter to its shareholders, Rupert noted that Richemont’s board did not propose to elect one specific director to represent the holders of its ‘A’ shares because it believes directors must act in the interest of all shareholders.

However, due to Bluebell’s proposal and in accordance with Swiss law, all ‘A’ shareholders have been asked to designate one person to serve as their representative, a move the company has not been required to make since its founding.

In the letter, Rupert said that the board does not believe that Bluebell has legitimacy to represent its shareholders as it holds a relatively small stake in the company.

He added that Trapani is not independent, noting that he has a close relationship with Richemont’s direct competitor LVMH, for which he has served as chairman and CEO of its Watches and Jewellery Division.

Additionally, Trapani was the CEO of Bulgari when it was acquired by LVMH in 2011 and later served on the conglomerate’s board of directors for five years.

Richemont’s board has instead proposed the election of Wendy Luhabe to the role of representing ‘A’ shareholders, due to the group’s support for her election in 2021.

Rupert further recommended voting against Bluebell’s additional proposal to increase the board’s minimal number of members from three to six.

The chair claimed that the firm’s scheme revolves around appointing directors that are not expected to act in the best interest of the company and only for its ‘A’ and ‘B’ shareholders.