UPDATE 1-L’Oreal heiress, daughter settle family feud

* Bettencourt wants to see family united

* Statement says family looks to the future

* L’Oreal chief relieved by reconciliation

* For timeline of the Bettencourt saga, click

(Adds details on L’Oreal shareholding)

By Leigh Thomas

PARIS, Dec 6 (BestGrowthStock) – France’s richest woman, L’Oreal
(OREP.PA: ) heiress Liliane Bettencourt, and her daughter said on
Monday they had settled a family feud that had led to tax and
political funding investigations.

What began as a row over gifts to a family friend expanded
earlier this year into a web of investigations that threatened
to suck in President Nicolas Sarkozy and raised questions about
the stability of holdings in the L’Oreal cosmetics empire.

“The decision that Francoise and I have taken offers me
hope. It meets my wish to see the family united,” Bettencourt
said in the joint statement with her daughter.

“We can now embrace the future together.”

Investment analysts said the agreement should end months of
feuding that had on occasion raised questions over the long-term
solidity of the Bettencourt family as core shareholders.

“This probably amounts to a sign of family commitment to
keep L’Oreal, and not to sell to Nestle (NESN.VX: ),” said one
analyst who asked not to be identified.

L’OREAL RELIEF

L’Oreal Chief Executive Jean-Paul Agon told employees of the
beauty products group that he was “very happy” about the
reconciliation between the group’s biggest shareholders.

Labour Minister Eric Woerth left the government last month
amid allegations he was involved in illegal financing of the
ruling UMP party and influence-peddling on behalf of
Bettencourt. Woerth has denied any wrongdoing and Bettencourt
has said she had no memory of giving him money.

Under an agreement to end the dispute, Bettencourt’s
daughter Francoise Bettencourt Meyers agreed to drop charges
against celebrity photographer Francois-Marie Banier that he
swindled her mother by receiving gifts.

The charges caused the original spat between Bettencourt and
her daughter before snowballing into a broad political scandal.

The affair has fallen into the background since Woerth was
dropped in a cabinet reshuffle but could return to bite the
government as the investigations reach their conclusions.

Bettencourt Meyers had filed a criminal complaint against
Banier in 2007, accusing him of abusing her mother’s frailty
after Bettencourt showered him with gifts worth 1 billion euros.
Banier has denied wrongdoing.

Under the accord Bettencourt, 88, will remain president of
the holding company Tethys which represents the family interests
in L’Oreal, Bettencourt Meyers’ husband, Jean-Pierre Meyers,
will become chief executive and their sons will join the board.

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

To solve their dispute, Bettencourt Meyers agreed to stop
trying to have a legal guardian appointed to her mother.

Bettencourt agreed not to see Banier any more and to drop
her wealth manager Patrice de Maistre, who had employed Woerth’s
wife until she resigned earlier this year.
(Reporting by Leigh Thomas; additional reporting by Gerard Bon;
editing by Tim Pearce)

UPDATE 1-L’Oreal heiress, daughter settle family feud