7 Dec 2010

L'Oreal heiress family feud settled

11:15 pm on 7 December 2010

France's richest woman, L'Oreal heiress Liliane Bettencourt, and her daughter have settled a family feud that had led to tax and political funding investigations.

The row began over gifts by Liliane Bettencourt, 88, to a family friend, celebrity photographer Francois-Marie Banier.

Her daughter filed a criminal complaint accusing him of abusing her mother's frailty after she showered him with gifts worth 1 billion euros. Mr Banier has denied wrongdoing.

Francoise Meyers-Bettencourt also tried to have her mother declared mentally unsound.

The feud between the women led to claims of tax evasion and illegal donations to Nicolas Sarkozy's 2007 campaign for the presidency.

That resulted in France's Labour Minister Eric Woerth leaving the government last month.

Under the accord Ms Bettencourt, will remain president of the holding company Tethys which represents the family interests in L'Oreal, while her daughter's husband, Jean-Pierre Meyers, will become chief executive and their sons will join the board.

The Bettencourt family holds a nearly 31% stake in L'Oreal, with Swiss foods conglomerate Nestle the next biggest shareholder with a 29.77% stake.

Ms Bettencourt agreed not to see Francois-Marie Banier any more and to drop her wealth manager.