Report: Activist Investor Third Point Builds Stake in Richemont

Activist hedge fund Third Point has built a stake in Richemont, media reported on Sunday. Shutterstock.

Activist hedge fund Third Point has built a stake in Richemont, media reported on Sunday, a development likely to put the luxury goods group’s capital structure and underperforming online businesses in the spotlight.

Third Point, controlled by billionaire investor Daniel Loeb, and US-based fund Artisan Partners, which has a 1.2 percent stake in Richemont, are pressing the owner of jewellery brand Cartier to improve its performance, online news platform Miss Tweed and the Financial Times reported, citing sources familiar with the matter.

Richemont, whose shares underperformed sector leader LVMH last year but have risen more than 50 percent this year, declined to comment. They were up 4.2 percent at 08:25 GMT.

Third Point, which recently built a large stake in Royal Dutch Shell and called for the oil major to split into multiple companies, and Artisan could not immediately be reached.

“This is a very interesting, not to say promising, development. Some external pressure is always healthy,” Vontobel analyst Jean-Philippe Bertschy said.

Richemont has two classes of shares: listed A shares traded on the SIX Swiss Exchange and unlisted B shares held by South African billionaire Johann Rupert’s Compagnie Financiere Rupert that represent 9.1 percent of the equity, but 50 percent of the votes.

Bertschy said this structure was not viable nowadays from a corporate governance point of view.

“In my opinion, Third Point and Artisan Partners are not the only ones to exert pressure in that sense, it’s just the tip of the iceberg,” he said.

Richemont has invested heavily in its loss-making online distributors business, whose underperformance has fuelled speculation about a potential sale of Yoox-Net-a-Porter (YNAP).

Kepler Cheuvreux analyst Jon Cox said he expected YNAP to be sold ultimately.

“But I suspect that the company was going to do this anyway and wants it to be profitable before it happens to realise greater value. I am not sure if Third Point is going to be able to accelerate that process,” Cox said.

Richemont reports results for the six months to Sept. 30 on Friday.

By Silke Koltrowitz; Editor: Louise Heavens

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