By  on December 9, 2010

PARIS — A new war of words has erupted in the affair pitting Hermès International against its unwelcome suitor, LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton.

Pierre Godé, vice chairman of LVMH, on Wednesday denounced a “campaign” against the luxury giant after a shareholder consultancy called on LVMH chief Bernard Arnault to clarify his recent purchase of a 17.1 percent stake in Hermès.

Godé was reacting to an open letter published by Fabrice Rémon, head of the French division of Deminor, calling for additional information about the surprise purchase of the Hermès shares. Rémon sent a copy of the letter to French market regulator AMF.

“You recently informed me of the mission you have been entrusted with to launch a campaign against LVMH and its executives,” Godé said. “You will understand that we are under no obligation to respond to your unfounded queries, the purpose of which is only too obvious.”

Rémon replied that the accusation was “far-fetched and untruthful,” adding, “I don’t wish to engage in any further controversy on this point.”

In his initial letter, Rémon called for LVMH to clarify at which date it decided to take delivery of Hermès shares instead of cash on expiration of its cash-settled equity swaps.

He noted that Godé told financial daily Les Echos in an interview that LVMH discussed the decision in September, though it only notified markets of the stake it had acquired on Oct. 23.

“There is no doubt that the shareholders who sold their shares during this period would probably not have done so had they been informed that LVMH was sitting on a potential capital gain of close to 2 billion euros,” he said.

A spokeswoman for Hermès said the company had no comment on the exchange.

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