PARIS — Hermès has won a big victory in its battle with Bernard Arnault.
A French court ruling Thursday gave Hermès International a major boost in its fight to block what appears to be a creeping takeover attempt by Arnault’s LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, saying that Hermès can group family-owned shares into a nonlisted holding company by year-end.
The Court of Appeal rejected an appeal by minority shareholders, who were seeking to overturn a January decision by France’s stock market authority AMF exempting Hermès from rules that would have required it to launch an offer for outstanding shares as part of the operation.
The family members who filed the request to pool their shares, which include Hermès artistic director Pierre-Alexis Dumas, greeted the court decision.
“The creation of this company, which will become effective in the coming weeks, will lastingly reinforce the independence of the Hermès group, the pursuit of its strategy of creativity and artisanal excellence and the respect of its values,” they said in a statement.
Officials at LVMH could not be reached for comment. Colette Neuville, president of the French Association for Minority Shareholders, or ADAM, said she was disappointed by the court’s decision.
“From a legal standpoint, this sets an extremely dangerous precedent and completely threatens the legal security of minority shareholders in family-owned groups in future,” she said. Neuville added that she has two months to decide on the next step, which could include a further appeal.
Olivier Diaz, a lawyer for Hermès, said any such move would not block the creation of the holding company.
Though LVMH chairman and chief executive officer 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.
LVMH revealed in July it had increased its stake in Hermès to 21.4 percent in the first half from the 20.2 percent it declared last December.
Hermès chief executive officer Patrick Thomas, speaking in Shanghai where he was celebrating the first anniversary of the group’s Chinese luxury label Shang Xia, reiterated his wish to see LVMH reduce its shareholding. Thomas made the comments before the publication of the Paris court ruling.
“The outcome is that Hermès will become very independent, and one day there will be a solution that we will find with them. We are not at war. It’s not a financial fight, it’s a cultural one,” he said. “I’m not saying that theirs is bad and ours is good, I’m just saying it’s different, so we don’t want to live with them.”
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 holding company will group 50.2 percent of the company’s capital and will have priority purchasing rights on the remaining shares held by the family members participating in the initiative — some 12.6 percent of capital.
“The majority will remain within the family, which is a very strong signal of its attachment to the company and the fact that it absolutely does not want to sell, whether in the short, medium or long term,” Diaz said.
He added that roughly 10 percent of capital was held by family members who are not joining the holding group. They include Nicolas Puech, the brother of Bertrand Puech, the executive chairman of Emile Hermès Sarl, which represents the family shareholders.
Trading in Hermès shares was suspended Thursday in expectation of the ruling, and was scheduled to resume today. Shares in Hermès closed up 2.5 percent Wednesday at 268.30 euros, or $367.24 at current exchange rates, representing a 71 percent leap since the start of the year.
@zacposen's go-to holiday gift? Cookies! "I'll usually bake cookies and send them as a gift," said the designer, who recently released his cookbook "Cooking With Zac: Recipes from Rustic to Refined." Get the recipe for his Brown Butter-Chocolate Chip Cookies via link in bio 🍪🍪🍪 #wwdeye #cookingwithzac
For @monsemaison’s pre-fall 2018 collection, Fernando Garcia and Laura Kim honed in on the brand’s many signatures — men’s wear, which was tweaked and feminized through deconstruction, proportion play and lots of bare shoulders. See the rest of the photos on WWD.com #wwdfashion (📷: George Chinese)
On Friday night, @yohjiyamamotoofficial received the Design for Asia Lifetime Achievement Award in Hong Kong. The 75-year-old designer has been celebrated for many years and is best known for his dark and avant-garde tailoring. “In my long career, in design, architecture, [I’ve been to] so many parties, this is the very first time that I have such a warm feeling, I really appreciate this,” Yamamoto said. #wwdfashion (📷: @dominiquemaitre)
Discovery is collaborating with British pop artist @philipcolbert on a new line of clothing and accessories called Discovery Shark. The collection, which will launch next summer for Shark Week’s 30th anniversary, features a whimsical line of women’s and men’s bomber jackets, sweatshirts, bags and more. #wwdfashion
“I’m always a big champion of a female rapper, and I’m glad to see a new voice that feels unique and authentic that’s coming up, and I think we’re going to see more great things from her,” said @itsjeremyscott about @iamcardib, who performed at @moschino’s Art Basel Miami Beach party last night. #wwdeye (📷: @lexieblacklock)
@janellemonae’s “What’s Your Frequency?” room in @refinery29's #29Rooms made its debut this week at the opening of the Los Angeles art exhibit. “It’s about the ongoing conversation around mass surveillance, the weaponization of technology and cultural uniformity. My space was created so that we can come together and talk about the complexities of our humanity,” said Monáe. #wwdeye (📷: @bucknerphoto)
@pantone announced their Color of the Year 2018: Ultra Violet. Nearly 20 months after the musician Prince’s death, fashion is having a purple moment. Varying shades of purple appeared on spring or fall runways, from @christopherkane to @calvinklein. @gucci’s Alessandro Michele bathed his fall runway in ultra violet-colored light at one point. Pantone 18-3838 is meant to “push the boundaries of what inspires us to look upward and outward to the future.” #wwdnews #wwdfashion (📷: @kukukuba)