herald

Sunday 22 October 2017

Luxury groups finally end feud

SHARES

France's richest man, Bernard Arnault (above), will relinquish most of his €5.7bn stake in luxury-goods maker Hermes, ending a protracted battle.

Following intervention by a French court, Mr Arnault's LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton company will distribute the 23pc Hermes holding to its own shareholders and institutional investors. The move comes almost four years after the world's largest luxury-goods company started building the holding without Hermes' knowledge.

Hermes has been at loggerheads with LVMH over the stake, which was amassed via so-called equity swaps.

The move rallied descendants of founder Emile Hermes to pool their shares in a holding company to protect against a full takeover and sparked legal action as well as demands that Mr Arnault reduce the shareholding.

Arnault always maintained LVMH's investment was peaceful and that it had no intention of assuming control.

Hermes is widely considered the jewel of the luxury-goods industry, as its €7,600 Birkins and €525 wool scarves help it command an operating margin of 32pc compared with LVMH's 21pc.

LVMH, Groupe Arnault and Dior have agreed to buy no more shares in Hermes for the next five years.

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