The Family Vs the Empire: Hermès Holds Back LVMH

As scintillating as it may have been, the LVMH/Hermès saga may be coming to an end, with French stock-market regulators granting Hermès exemption privileges. Before Christmas, LVMH announced that they had acquired 20% of Hermès, with plans to purchase additional stock. Hermès didn’t take the potential takeover lightly, and attempted to pool its 50% of family shares into a holding company, effectively blocking LVMH’s plans. The catch is that French market regulator AMF has a rule that when companies pool over a third of their shares, they must launch a public offering, which would make Hermès’s shares even more accessible to LVMH.

But let’s not forget we’re talking about Hermès, and contrary to speculation, the French stock-market regulators took only a few hours to allow the exemption. Does this mean Hermès is in the clear? Not yet. The AMF’s decision is likely to be appealed, and there’s still an investigation as to how LVMH managed to acquire 20% of Hermès’ shares without the company noticing. In the process, we’re looking forward to more pithy French barbs hurled back and forth, although it’s hard to top Hermès execs referring to LVMH as “a mosquito buzzing around.”