Arnault's Shaky E Empire

Europ@web isn't panning out. What will the luxury mogul do next?

When luxury king Bernard Arnault set up Europe's biggest Internet investment fund last summer, he looked ready to build a powerful empire in cyberspace. By taking stakes in dozens of Web startups, the French tycoon planned to create an integrated group of companies called Europ@web that would rival foreign giants such as Softbank and CMGI Inc. But now, those dreams look as flat as a day-old glass of Moet & Chandon champagne. Several key Europ@web ventures have failed to meet expectations. In late June, Arnault pulled the plug on a planned listing of Europ@web, saying he was considering "strategic alternatives."

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