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LVMH names arbitrators

LVMH, the luxury brands group controlled by Bernard Arnault yesterday named the arbitrators who will resolve issues concerning the proposed pounds 24bn merger between Guinness and Grand Metropolitan. The appointment of the arbitrators came as it emerged that the proceedings could take up to a year to complete.

Guinness claims that the arbitration on whether or not the merger would entail a change of control at Guinness, technically a "control event", has nothing to do with the merger. The company is looking forward to the deal being cleared by EU competition authorities on 27 October. But Bernard Arnault, boss of the French luxury goods group Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton (LVMH), claims that if the arbitration goes against Guinness it could cost the British company well over pounds 1bn. A spokesman for Mr Arnault said last night: "How can the merger go ahead with that hanging over Guinness's head?''

The arbitrators are Serge Lazareff for LVMH and Matthieu de Boissesson for Guinness.

A meeting between Guinness chairman Tony Greener and Mr Arnault is set to take place this month, it emerged yesterday.