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Will Cannes change hands?

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A Paris court yesterday delivered its first verdict in a two-year-old case between the Federation of Nautical Industries (FIN), which owns the Cannes Yachting Festival, and Reed Expo, which organizes the event. Cannes is considered the kick-off event to the boat show season in Europe, with new model introductions from most European boat builders. It continues to grow each year.

Marine media in France reported that FIN prevailed with the initial verdict. France’s marine trade association terminated the Cannes show contract in October 2016 with Reed, arguing that one of the clauses in the contract was an “abuse of economic dependency.” The contract specified that Reed Expo would operate the Cannes Yachting Festival until 2041.

Reed filed an appeal in November 2016 that allowed it to continue to run the show. It has organized the 2017 and 2018 editions.

Yesterday’s decision by the Paris District Court found that the clause in dispute was not legal and therefore allowed FIN to terminate the contract. A FIN statement said that "the court has even expressly prohibited Reed from appearing as the organizer of the Yachting Festival.”

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Reed Expositions issued a statement following the decision saying that the initial ruling was “not enforceable,” adding that the French Court of Appeals must make the final verdict.

“We are disappointed by this decision, which rules against one of the key and crucial clauses of the contract signed with FIN,” said Michael Filzi, CEO of Reed Expositions in France, in a statement. “We will obviously appeal against this decision and I remain confident that the Appeals court will acknowledge the validity of the commitments made by FIN and Reed’s legitimate right to continue to manage the Cannes Yachting Festival.”

The statement noted that FIN’s previous attempts to void the contract had been dismissed by other French agencies.

“Our priority has always been and remains the development of the show and the interest of our French and international customers,” said Filzi, noting that the show has been ranked as Europe’s most important “floating” boat show. “Its contribution to the growth of the yachting market in France and Europe are a great source of satisfaction and responsibility for Reed.” 

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