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Ex-Campari CEO Fined for Spilling Grand Marnier Tip at Dinner

Nov. 16, 2020, 7:26 PM

Davide Campari-Milano NV’s former chief executive officer was fined by French stock-market regulators for tipping off a friend at a dinner that the Grand Marnier Group was going to be acquired.

Marco Perelli-Cippo, who stepped down as Campari CEO in 2004 but remained a board member, was fined 50,000 euros ($59,000) by the Autorité des Marchés Financiers’ enforcement committee. His friend, Davide Blei, got a 100,000-euro penalty, according to a decision published Monday. Both men deny the accusations.

The AMF fining body said there were clues to suggest that Perelli-Cippo told his friend during a March 1, 2016 dinner that the Marnier-Lapostolle family shareholders were poised to sell their stake. The regulators highlighted that the dinner took place the same day as a Campari board meeting and that Blei opened a securities account the following day, acquiring Grand Marnier shares later in the week. Blei made about 34,000 euros from the trades.

Campari announced mid-March 2016 that it had agreed to buy Grand Marnier, whose signature drink is often used to make Cosmopolitan cocktails, in a deal valuing the French cognac maker at 684 million euros. The acquisition was the first for Campari since 2014, and the biggest since Robert Kunze-Concewitz took the helm in 2007.

Romuald Cohana, a lawyer for Blei, said his client will likely appeal his fine. “We are astounded by such a lack of critical thinking and such indiscriminate application of the body of clues method which poses real legal problems,” he said.

A lawyer for Perelli-Cippo didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

For investigators, hard evidence of secretive insider dealings such as wire-tap recordings or emails is difficult to come by. French law allows the AMF to build cases by relying on a consistent body of clues so long as these show that only a person with insider information could have entered into such transactions.

Other Fines

Three other men were also tripped up in the AMF case.

A then-Moet Hennessy employee, Gérard Monnet, was fined 25,000 euros after being accused of making about 7,000 euros from information on Grand Marnier that he’d obtained at work.

In another segment of the case, an analyst in the beverages sector, Michael Aubourg, was fined 50,000 euros for insider trades that earned him a profit of 16,525 euros. Cyril de Bournet, an in-law of the Marnier-Lapostolle family, got a 50,000-euro penalty for allegedly tipping off the analyst at Alken Asset Management.

Frédéric Peltier, a lawyer for Aubourg, said his client will appeal the decision, which the attorney says is contrary to the AMF enforcement committee’s case law. Monnet said he would probably not appeal the penalty. A lawyer for de Bournet didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

To contact the reporter on this story:
Gaspard Sebag in Paris at gsebag@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story:
Anthony Aarons at aaarons@bloomberg.net

Peter Chapman, Christopher Elser

© 2020 Bloomberg L.P. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

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