French tycoon Tapie says faces total ruin after court ruling

PARIS (Reuters) - French tycoon Bernard Tapie says he faces “total ruin” after a court ordered him to repay more than 400 million euros over a disputed business deal.

French businessman Bernard Tapie attends a news conference for the launching of his web TV at the headquarters of the French daily newspaper 'La Provence' in Marseille, March 12, 2014. REUTERS/Jean-Paul Pelissier

A Paris appeals court dismissed on Thursday Tapie’s argument that he had been hoodwinked by a state bank into selling sportswear firm Adidas for less than its worth in 1992. The court ruled to the contrary that he had to repay 404 million euros ($440 million).

In an interview in Le Monde published on Friday, the 72-year-old said: “I am ruined, totally ruined.”

“But I know myself. This will not last long ... If they want war, that’s what they’ll have,” said Tapie, a pugnacious businessman who has dabbled in everything from the football and media industries to stints as an actor and talk-show host.

In the last chapter of a 20-year legal feud, the court said the magnate had not been duped by the state-owned Credit Lyonnais, now defunct, and that he was not entitled to compensation.

As well as rejecting Tapie’s demand for up to 1.2 billion euros, the court ordered him and his wife to repay 404 million euros he had received under a previous settlement that has since been struck down.

Asked if he could repay that sum, Tapie said: “No. So they are going to put me in personal bankruptcy and sell everything I have, the house I bought 28 years ago.”

That house, a luxury building in the heart of Paris, is one of several prize assets along with a residence in the Riviera coastal resort town of Saint-Tropez that are already legally seized and could be used to repay some of the money he owes.

His lawyer Emmanuel Gaillard has said Tapie would launch one last appeal in France’s highest court. However, legal experts say such an appeal would not spare him the obligation in the meantime to honor the repayment ruling.

($1 = 0.9194 euros)

Reporting by Dominique Vidalon and Brian Love; Editing by Gareth Jones