Memo Pad: Power Of The Press... Designers Dispute... Hey, Daddy-O...

Luxury titan Bernard Arnault is becoming quite the press baron, too.

Gene Pressman Vera Wang and Noah Kerner at Bungalow 8

Gene Pressman, Vera Wang and Noah Kerner at Bungalow 8.

Photo By WWD Staff

POWER OF THE PRESS: Luxury titan Bernard Arnault is becoming quite the press baron, too. LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton said Thursday it had entered exclusive negotiations to buy leading French financial daily Les Echos from Britain's Pearson PLC, publisher of the Financial Times. Arnault already owns the La Tribune daily newspaper, Investir financial weekly and the monthly Connaissance des Arts art magazine. He also controls the Radio Classique music station in Paris.

Les Echos Group, which also includes a Web site and other financial information interests, posted 2006 revenues of 126 million euros, or $167.6 million at current exchange rate, and generated operating profits of 10 million euros, or $13.3 million.

Employees at La Tribune and Les Echos have been up in arms about the prospect of a potential LVMH takeover, which would centralize control of France's two main financial dailies. In a statement, LVMH said it considers editorial independence "of the utmost importance" and would include specific provisions in its agreement with Les Echos should it succeed in the bid.

Press reports have pegged the value of LVMH's offer north of 200 million euros, or $266 million.

LVMH said it would convene a meeting with workers at La Tribune "to analyze the consequences of this process." Should a transaction be concluded, the French conglomerate vowed to invest in the development of Les Echos. — Miles Socha

DESIGNER DISPUTE?: "The Fashionista Diaries" has either dropped designer Charlotte Ronson or may be close to it. As WWD reported, the upcoming Soapnet show was supposed to show six assistants put together a fashion show and after party for Ronson during New York Fashion Week in September. Yet on Wednesday, executive producer Jenny Daly at Go Go Luckey Productions said Ronson was out and another "big name designer" was in. Daly added that Ronson will no longer be on the show "because we just couldn't get a contract that worked." A day later, a spokeswoman for Ronson denied Daly's claim and said heavy negotiations are still going on. She added Ronson still wants to be part of the show, but her lawyers are busy combing over contracts. "The whole show was built around her, but she may just do a cameo now," the spokeswoman added. In addition, Ronson's public relations firm, Seventh House PR, also may pull out as it only got involved because of Ronson. Meanwhile, Jane magazine and Flirt Cosmetics have both confirmed they are still involved in the show. — Amy Wicks
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