Hermès Files Suit Against LVMH

The complaint accuses LVMH of insider trading and manipulating stock prices.

PARIS — Hermès International announced that it filed a complaint with a Paris court on July 10 against luxury conglomerate LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, which surprised markets two years ago by revealing it had accumulated a large percentage of Hermès stocks.

“This complaint concerns the terms of LVMH’s entry into the capital of Hermès International,” Hermès said in a two-line statement. The complaint accuses LVMH of insider trading and manipulating stock prices, according to sources familiar with the issue, who declined to be named for confidentiality reasons.


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Officials at LVMH and at the public prosecutor’s office in Paris were not immediately reachable.

LVMH announced in October 2010 that it had amassed a 17.1 percent stake in Hermès via cash-settled equity swaps that allowed it to circumvent the usual market rules requiring firms to declare share purchases. It has since raised its stake to 22.3 percent.

Though LVMH chairman and chief executive officer Bernard Arnault has said he is not seeking full control of the maker of Birkin handbags and silk scarves, Hermès has vowed to protect itself from what it considers an unwelcome suitor.

Last year, it won a big victory when the Court of Appeal in Paris authorized Hermès to group family-owned shares into a nonlisted holding company. The Dumas, Puech and Guerrand families collectively own more than 70 percent of the shares in Hermès International, a limited partnership structure that guarantees they keep control of management.

The H51 holding company, completed last December, groups 50.2 percent of the company’s capital and has priority purchasing rights on the remaining shares held by the family members participating in the initiative — some 12.6 percent of capital.