PARIS — LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton again increased its stake in luxury firm Hermès International, just a day after the Hermès family announced it had completed the creation of a nonlisted holding company grouping more than 50 percent of its share capital in a bid to ward off a takeover.
According to a declaration published by France’s stock market authority AMF on Tuesday, LVMH on Dec. 15 upped its stake in the maker of Birkin handbags and silk scarves to 22.3 percent from 21.4 percent previously. It now retains 16 percent of the firm’s voting rights, crossing the threshold of 15 percent that requires market notification.
A spokeswoman for Hermès said it did not have any comment on the AMF filing.
On Dec. 14, Hermès said Julie Guerrand had been appointed president of the holding company, dubbed H51. Guerrand belongs to the sixth generation of heirs to Thierry Hermès, who founded the company in 1837.
In an interview with French daily Le Figaro last week, Bertrand Puech, the executive chairman of Emile Hermès Sarl, which represents the family shareholders, declared the war with LVMH over, although he reiterated his call for the luxury giant to withdraw.
LVMH chairman and chief executive officer Bernard Arnault surprised markets when he revealed in October 2010 that he had accumulated a 17.1 percent stake in Hermès via cash-settled equity swaps that allowed him to circumvent the usual market rules requiring firms to declare share purchases.
Although Arnault said he had no plans for a full takeover, the move rattled Hermès, which has vowed to protect itself from what it considers an unwelcome suitor.
In Tuesday’s AMF filing, LVMH said it would consider purchasing more shares in Hermès depending on circumstances and market conditions, but reiterated that it did not seek to take over the firm. It also said it holds cash-settled equity swaps covering 205,997 shares in Hermès, which expire from April 4, 2014.
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