September 30, 2018 / 11:33 AM / 8 months ago

Folli's CEO vows to stay on and steer talks on restructuring

ATHENS, Sept 30 (Reuters) - Troubled Greek jewellery maker Folli Follie is seeking potential investors to support its restructuring plans, the company’s chief executive said in a newspaper interview published on Sunday.

A preliminary audit last week revealed big financial discrepancies in Folli’s Asian business, prompting Chairman Dimitrios Koutsolioutsos and vice-chairperson Ekaterini Koutsolioutsou, the couple who jointly founded the firm in 1982, to step down.

Dimitris Koutsolioutsos owns a 35 percent stake in Folli, while China’s Fosun holds 15 percent, according to Reuters data.

Chief Executive George Koutsolioutsos, the son of the founders, distanced himself from his father and vowed to stay on to help reshape the company and protect its employees, partners and suppliers who he said numbered more than 10,000.

“My departure would facilitate many people, who want the group to collapse and benefit from its distress sale,” George Koutsolioutsos said in interview with the Sunday edition of newspaper Kathimerini.

He added that he had run the European operations and had no control over the business in Asia.

“Personally, I was responsible for the European part. I wasn’t in a position to have any sort of control of the Asian (operations),” he said.

“I’m in the unfortunate position of confirming the rumours in the press all these years, that there is a rift with my very own father in our perception of the group’s future.”

Koutsolioutsos said he has been in talks with strategic investors which could help in the group’s restructuring. He declined to disclose their names or any details, citing confidentiality agreements.

“I believe that I am part of this solution and right now, abandoning the ship is simply an act of cowardice,” he said.

Folli’s shares plunged in May after equity fund Quintessential Capital Management (QCM) raised concerns over 2017 finances of its Asian operations, prompting the Greek securities regulator to suspend trading of the shares on May 25 after the firm failed to provide requested financial data.

Folli has hired Alvarez and Marsal for a financial audit and has won a temporary protection of its assets from creditors until next month. (Reporting Renee Maltezou and Angeliki Koutantou Editing by Keith Weir)

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