PARIS — Following its failed bid for Hermès, could LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton be angling to snap up another independent competitor, Chanel?
Not so, said Bernard Arnault, chairman and chief executive officer of LVMH, at the company’s annual general meeting in Paris on Thursday. The luxury titan, flanked by members of the group’s executive committee onstage, was responding to a query during the meeting’s question and answer session.
Asked to comment on rumors that a senior LVMH executive had met with members of the Wertheimer family, which controls Chanel, to explore an acquisition, Arnault said: “Chanel is an outstanding business, but we are not in contact with them. I don’t know who told you that, but in my opinion, it’s fake news. There’s a lot of that around, you know.”
Chanel, which rarely comments on market rumors, also dismissed the speculation. “We confirm that Chanel is not for sale and that these rumors are totally unfounded,” Chanel chief financial officer Philippe Blondiaux said in a statement to WWD.
LVMH surprised markets in October 2010 when it revealed it had amassed a 17.1 percent stake in Hermès via cash-settled equity swaps that allowed it to circumvent the usual regulations requiring firms to declare share purchases. Over the next few years, it raised its stake to 23.2 percent.
The share acquisition triggered an investigation by France’s stock market regulator and a legal battle between the two companies, which eventually signed a truce in 2014 that saw LVMH distribute its Hermès stake to shareholders.
Alain and Gérard Wertheimer, the reclusive billionaire brothers who own Chanel, have never commented publicly on their strategy for the maker of 2.55 handbags and tweed jackets.