Richemont shareholders voted overwhelmingly to keep former Bulgari CEO Francesco Trapani (pictured) off of its board, after Richemont’s chairman dubbed him an “inappropriate” candidate, given his ties to rival conglomerate LVMH.
Activist fund Bluebell Capital Partners had wanted Trapani—one of the fund’s cofounders—to represent the company’s A shareholders on the Richemont board. Bluebell has also urged Richemont to focus more on watches and jewelry.
But shareholders favored the board’s approved candidate, Wendy Luhabe.
Bluebell, which owns what Richemont called “a small stake” in the company, did not return a request for comment by the time of publication. But founding partner Giuseppe Bivona told Bloomberg that the vote represented a “partial victory” for Bluebell, as this was the first time Richemont designated a specific board member to represent its traded shares.
“It’s an important step,” he said, “and not an insignificant one.”
In a statement, Richemont chairman Johann Rupert said he was “deeply grateful to all our shareholders and wish to thank them for their vote of confidence in the leadership and governance of the company. The board can now continue to work in a collegial manner, in the interest of all our shareholders.”
The battle over Trapani’s appointment was unusually public and fractious.
Richemont’s board told shareholders that it “could not responsibly recommend to shareholders to let [Trapani], a person who has a long history of association with [LVMH]—as well as a personal relationship with that group’s main shareholder—become a director of our company and intervene in our company’s decision-making process.”
Trapani headed Bulgari when LVMH acquired it in 2011. Following that, he served as CEO of LVMH’s watches and jewelry division and as a member of LVMH’s board. He was also an adviser to LVMH chairman Bernard Arnault.
Trapani left LVMH in 2017 when he joined Tiffany’s board. The famed retailer received a purchase offer from LVMH two years later.
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