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Hermes Ownership Battle Continues

By Caroline Dobson
Epoch Times Staff
Created: May 20, 2011 Last Updated: May 20, 2011
Related articles: Business » Companies
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Picture of a French luxury goods firm Hermes' shop taken on October 25, 2010 in Paris. The manner in which LVMH chose to buy derivatives of Hermes shares in order to gain ownership is to be evaluated. (Miguel Medina/AFP/Getty Images)

Picture of a French luxury goods firm Hermes' shop taken on October 25, 2010 in Paris. The manner in which LVMH chose to buy derivatives of Hermes shares in order to gain ownership is to be evaluated. (Miguel Medina/AFP/Getty Images)

The controversial takeover of Hermes International SCA by LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton SA (MC) has taken another turn, with minority investors challenging a French court’s decision to protect the company from being bought out.

France’s ADAM association has lodged an injunction to inhibit the family shareholders from utilizing their voting rights during the upcoming annual general meeting on May 30, according to a statement issued by Hermes on Thursday, May 19 says Reuters.

"ADAM's demand would end up handing control of the meeting to minority shareholder LVMH, whose entry into Hermes' capital is under investigation by (French regulator) AMF," Hermes said.

The challenge to the 173-year-old high fashion house is, “There must be existing control [established in the first place]’” said the minority shareholder lawyer in court on May 19, Alain Geniteau in a Bloomberg report.

“The reality is that there was no control of the Hermes company by the family,” hence there were defensive measures taken to form a holding company.

The Autorite des Marches Financiers (AMF) translated in English as the “Financial Markets Authority” forms the financial regulator for the markets, originally authorized the Hermes family of Birkin bags, the ability to accumulate a 50.2 magjority ownership of the holding company without considering the rest of the shareholders. The standard procedure however said the minority investors are to factor in all of the group to join together.

The head of the world’s largest luxury conglomerate Bernard Arnault claims that LVMH does not intend to challenge the ownership of Hermes. The holding company, composed of 52 of the 53 founding family form the majority of the ownership also promised not to bid for the rest of the company said Bloomberg. This was the key reason Hermes was granted the ability to protect its majority ownership by AMF, since it justified the rationale for unifying the shares for the family.

However the next issue for the French financial watchdog to investigate is the grounds of legitimacy undertaken by LVMH. So the manner in which LVMH chose to buy derivatives of Hermes shares in order to gain ownership of 17.1 percent holding in October 2010 is to be evaluated.




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