And the luxury leather goods slap-fight continues! Just when you thought that LVMH might be appropriately chastened by its multi-million euro fine for using what amounts to using subterfuge and trickery to compile a rather enormous stake in family-owned Hermes, the French fashion conglomerate, helmed by Bernard Arnault, goes and does it again, according to Women’s Wear Daily.
New financial disclosures by LVMH recently revealed that the company’s stake in Hermes is now 23.1%, up from 22.6% at last disclosure in 2012. While that may not seem like a great deal on the surface, it’s quite notable when you consider both the lengths to which Hermes has gone to protect the remaining stock and the punishments that have been levied against LVMH, which already owns brands like Louis Vuitton, Givenchy and Celine, for using shady, all-cash equity swaps to acquire the stock without the Hermes Board of Directors noticing. To continue to amass Hermes shares is, at the very least, an aggressive public statement on the part of LVMH (even if they deny that it is, because of course they’d deny that).
WWD reports that the stock was bought on the market, which would seem to indicate that perhaps the family-run business has sprung another leak. Over 50% of the total Hermes shares were secured in a joint holding once LVMH’s stake in the company became public knowledge, which leaves a relatively tiny amount that are still available to shift, and they’d almost certainly have to come from the inside. Sounds like it’s going to be a rather tense holiday season for one very powerful French family.