June 10, 2011

FRANCE: L'Oreal heiress, daughter tangle publicly again

BORDEAUX, France / Le Point Weekly / Companies / June 10, 2011

Liliane Bettencourt asks to be heard as a plaintiff 

Liliane Bettencourt's lawyer, Mr. Bertrand Favreau, asked Bordeaux magistrate Jean-Michel Gentil on Thursday to hear his client as plaintiff in the case of breach of trust and fraud which she complained 11 months ago, he told AFP Friday.

This is in part in response to the visit of Mr. Gentile, to the home of Mrs Bettencourt Tuesday. He was accompanied by police and doctors to conduct a medical examination, as the elderly lady had twice in the previous week declined the invitations of the judge, citing health reasons.
Les avocats de l'héritère de L'Oréal âgée de 88 ans se plaignent du fait que le juge ait fait le déplacement à Neuilly (Hauts-de-Seine) pour la faire ausculter, alors qu'il n'a jusqu'à présent pas accepté de l'entendre à son domicile comme elle le souhaiterait, après une fêlure du col du fémur survenue en janvier.

© Le Point.fr


Related reports

PARIS / Associated Press / June 8, 2011

France's richest woman and her daughter have resumed a public dispute, casting new doubt over the fate of the family fortune months after their high-profile reconciliation.

L'Oreal heiress Liliane Bettencourt told the Web site of weekly Le Point Wednesday she's "revolted and unhappy" a day after Francoise Bettencourt Meyers sought to have a judge order legal protection for her mother.

Meanwhile, Le Monde newspaper reported that a judge in suburban Courbevoie in March ruled the 88-year-old tycoon faced troubled cognition and showed signs of a "confused state."

Bettencourt's heirs reportedly are concerned about her health and management of her fortune, estimated at $20 billion by Forbes magazine. The mother and daughter late last year appeared to end a legal dispute over more than €1 billion ($1.3 billion).

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press.

FINANCIAL TIMES / FT.com / Europe, June 8, 2011
By Peggy Hollinger in Paris

The battle over the future and fortune of France’s richest woman, L’Oréal heiress Liliane Bettencourt, has broken out again barely six months after a truce was struck with her daughter.

Françoise Bettencourt-Meyers, the daughter, has launched a legal challenge to the lawyer appointed to manage her mother’s affairs. On Tuesday, she filed a complaint with a wardship judge over the mandate granted to Pascal Wilhelm in the peace treaty signed by mother and daughter last December.

This allows the lawyer to take Mrs Bettencourt’s place in managing her investments – including sitting on the board of cosmetics group L’Oréal, where she owns 31 per cent – if the 88-year-old heiress is deemed no longer able to perform her functions.

In the filing, first reported by Le Monde newspaper, Ms Bettencourt-Meyers’ lawyers say that her mother has become the victim of an “abuse of influence” which has raised “fears of new evolutions contrary to Mrs Bettencourt’s interests”.

Mrs Bettencourt, whose fortune is estimated at €14.5bn ($21bn), said she was “appalled” by the new legal challenge, in an interview to appear in this week’s Le Point news magazine.

The new offensive risks reviving an affair that has laid bare not only the secret lives and tensions inside France’s wealthiest family, but also raised questions over the relationship between politics and business.

In the court battle between mother and daughter, which lasted more than a year before the truce, allegations of political favours, secret donations and phone tapping were made that damaged the credibility of France’s ruling elite.

Ms Bettencourt-Meyers, an only child, began legal action in 2009 to place her mother under the care of the court after accusing the society photographer François-Marie Banier of manipulating the heiress and benefiting from gifts worth more than €1bn.

After the peace deal, she dropped charges against Mr Banier and her bid to have her mother placed under the court’s care. However, earlier this year a wardship judge who was concerned by Mrs Bettencourt’s state of health asked the appeals court to decide whether she could still rule on the case. A decision is expected on June 20.

Mr Wilhelm could not be reached for comment. Shares in L’Oréal fell 1 per cent in trading on Wednesday to €84.52.

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2011.