| PARIS, March 26
PARIS, March 26 The sale of French department
store Printemps to Qatari investors could be a done deal by as
early as this summer as the timetable for presenting the deal to
its staff is now set, people close to the proposed deal said on
The upmarket department store and tourist shopping hotspot
has been the target of a joint bid by Italian businessman
Maurizio Borletti allied with Qatari investors, but is also
coveted by French retail archrival Galeries Lafayette.
"A first presentation meeting has been set for April 5 and
there will be two other meetings on April 19 and on April 25,"
Bernard Demarcq, Secretary General for the UGICT-CGT trade union
told Reuters on Tuesday.
He was speaking after Printemps management met with employee
representatives earlier in the day to decide on a timetable to
present the offer to staff.
No details on the terms of the offer were provided at the
meeting, added Demarcq, who worries about possible job cuts.
Separately, a Borletti spokeswoman in Paris told Reuters
that the deal could be sealed "by summer."
Le Printemps is 70 percent owned by Deutsche Bank's
real estate investment unit RREEF and 30 percent
owned by the Borletti Group, headed by Maurizio Borletti.
A source close to the talks told Reuters last month that
RREEF and the Borletti Group were in exclusive talks to sell
Printemps to Qatari investors for up to 2 billion euros ($2.57
Borletti and RREEF bought Printemps in 2006 from French
luxury group PPR for 1.1 billion euros.
Printemps now has 16 stores and employs about 4,000. Its
2011-12 turnover rose 13 percent to 1.45 billion euros.
Since the exclusive talks were announced on Feb. 20, not
much news has emerged.
Sources close to the talks have hinted it was a "done deal,"
though the final closing will occur only once Printemps employee
representatives and French regulatory authorities have been
"RREEF retained the offer and no rival offer can be
submitted given the exclusive nature of the talks," the Borletti
Details on the terms of the deal have been scarce though
banking sources said it valued Printemps at 1.8 billion-2.0
billion euros, including debt.
RREEF and Borletti have declined to comment on the terms of
the proposed deal.
Meanwhile, Galeries Lafayette, which tried but failed to buy
Printemps in 2006, has not yet given up on its bid.
Galeries Lafayette, whose flagship store in Paris sits next
to Le Printemps on Boulevard Haussmann, employs 15,000 people
and posted 2011 revenue of 5.6 billion euros.
Last month its chief executive Philippe Houze offered RREEF
1.8 billion euros to buy Printemps, but his offer was ignored.
This month Houze contacted Qatari investors to convince them
to link up with Galeries Lafayette and drop their support of
Borletti. He has also been lobbying French and Parisian
officials to try to rally support behind his bid.
A spokeswoman for Galeries Lafayette on Tuesday declined to
comment on Houze's current plans.
($1 = 0.7777 Euro)
(Reporting by Dominique Vidalon and Pascale Denis, additional
reporting by Kathrin Jones and Alexander Huebner in Frankfurt,
Anjuli Davies in London; editing by G Crosse)