Richemont shares tumble after 7 mln share placement
* Goldman Sachs selling shares for institutional shareholder - traders
* Shares sold worth about $538 mln
* Shares slide 3.3 pct, underperform index
ZURICH, March 19 (Reuters) - Shares in luxury goods group Richemont, the maker of Cartier watches, slid more than 3 percent on Tuesday after an institutional investor placed around 7 million shares.
Luxury goods groups are grappling with slowing demand in China, the world's biggest market for luxury goods, and watchmakers are seen as particularly likely to be hit by the new government's crackdown on corruption and gift-giving.
Traders said Goldman Sachs was placing the shares at between 76.30 and 77.50 francs and it was not clear which investor the placement was for. Goldman Sachs could not immediately be reached for comment.
A spokesman for Richemont said he did not have access to information on share movements.
Shares in the group were down 3.3 percent at 76.85 francs at 1340 GMT, underperforming the European personal and household goods sector which was down 0.2 percent.
Richemont, which also makes jewellery, has a market capitalisation of 41.82 billion Swiss francs ($44 billion) and 522 million shares outstanding, according to Thomson Reuters data, meaning 7 million shares represent about 1.34 percent or about 538 million Swiss francs.
Its top investors are Public Investment Corporation Ltd with a 5.12 percent stake, Carmignac Gestion and Norges Bank IM, which each hold 2.38 percent, Northern Cross with 1.77 percent, Waddell & Reed with 1.47 percent, Credit Suisse AM with 1.44 percent and Gardner Russo & Gardner with 1.34 percent, according to Thomson Reuters data.
Richemont shares hit a record peak of 81.45 francs in January this year and approached 81.00 francs again last week. They are trading at about 16.6 times estimated earnings for the next twelve months, at a small premium to peer Swatch Group at 16.2.
Exane BNP Paribas analyst Luca Solca said in an overview of luxury goods in China last month that Richemont could be hit by a move away from 'bling', meaning the most expensive and sophisticated timepieces, in the wake of a crackdown on corruption and gift-giving.
He said he preferred Swatch Group that could "cater defensibly to the masses".
Richemont said in January sales growth had ground to a halt in the important Asia-Pacific region.
($1 = 0.9451 Swiss francs) (Reporting by Silke Koltrowitz and Ruppert Pretterklieber; Editing by Charlotte Cooper)