PARIS – In their most explicit statement since LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton announced its stealth purchase of 17.1 percent of Hermès shares, the company’s bosses hit back in a newspaper interview in which they called for luxury mogul Bernard Arnault to get rid of his stake.


Patrick Thomas, chief executive officer of Hermès International, and Bertrand Puech, executive chairman of Emile Hermès SARL, which represents the family shareholders, told French daily Le Figaro they did not consider the move by the LVMH chairman and ceo as “friendly” despite his assurances that he does not plan a hostile takeover.


“The family is saying clearly and unanimously: ‘If you want to be friendly, Monsieur Arnault, then you must withdraw’,” Puech was quoted as saying by the paper.


He added that he reacted with “surprise and displeasure” when Arnault phoned to notify him of the stake, just hours before issuing a statement. Thomas and Puech said they met with Arnault last week and told him face-to-face they did not consider his overture friendly.


“There is nothing friendly about this move. It was neither desired nor solicited,” said Thomas, adding: “It is very probable that he will increase his stake, I don’t know his intentions.”