Bernard Arnault hermes

LVMH said Tuesday it had increased its stake in smaller rival Hermes to more than 20 percent, sparking fresh speculation about its ultimate intentions.

Mr. Arnault surprised the family behind Hermès two months ago by announcing he had racked up a 17.1% stake in their company.

LVMH said in a statement to the market regulator that as of Dec 17 it held 20.21 percent of Hermes after buying more shares on the open market.

The group, owned by billionaire Bernard Arnault, said it would continue to buy more shares but did not intend to take control, to make a public offer for the company nor to seek seats on the board. “The investment in Hermes was “strategic and long-term”.

LVMH is the largest shareholder in Hermes but it is controlled by the descendents of founder Thierry Hermes who between them hold 73.4 percent of the capital.

If Arnault wants to continue increasing his stake, it will likely take years to erode family unity and therefore clear the way for a takeover.

LVMH, the world’s leading luxury group, controls brands such as Louis Vuitton, Givenchy, Dom Perignon and Dior.

Source: AFP

Hermes Paris boutique