LVMH says they have a lot to offer Hermès
Bernard Arnault, CEO of LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, said Thursday that he has no intention of removing his stake in Hermès International.
On Oct. 23, news broke as LVMH revealed that it held a 14.2-percent stake in Hermès International.
There was speculation whether the luxury brand was trying to transform the iconic French label. LVMH, however, quickly denied that the new partnership would be anything but cooperative.
“(We have) no intention of launching a tender offer, taking control of Hermès nor seeking board representation,” a spokesperson from LVMH told WWD. “The objective of LVMH is to be a long-term shareholder of Hermès and to contribute to the preservation of the family and French attributes, which are at the heart of the global success of this iconic brand.”
Then on Wednesday, Patrick Thomas, the CEO of Hermès International, told the French daily Le Figaro that they wanted LVMH’s CEO and Chairman Bernard Arnault to remove his stake in the company.
Bertrand Puech, a descendent of the founder of Hermès, got the point across in one sentence.
“The family is saying clearly and unanimously: ‘If you want to be friendly, Monsieur Arnault, then you must withdraw,’” Puech said, reported by Fashionologie.
The article also revealed that Arnault told Puech of the 14.2-percent stake just moments before the story hit the press, causing discord within Hermès.
“There is nothing friendly about this move. It was neither desired nor solicited,” Thomas told the paper.
Arnault responded diplomatically in Thursday’s issue of Le Figaro and said that no company has the right to tell its investors to sell their shares.
“Our presence in the capital of Hermès presents no risk to society nor to family control,” Arnault said. “Quite the contrary…This operation is a completely amicable one. What’s hostile is the demand that we sell our shares.”
The LVMH CEO also pointed out that although the companies are different, they also share many traits as world leaders in luxury products. He thinks LVMH might also be able to keep tabs on Hermès and make sure the business adheres to its French identity.
“I also believe that our entry is probably the best way to preserve the French base and the family nature of this business,” he said.
An interesting point to be made by a global empire such as LVMH, which could be argued is straying too far from its French roots.
One of his final statements, however, reveals that the tenuous back-and-forth isn’t over yet.
“If you want to compare numbers, compare those of Hermès with Louis Vuitton. In this case of either growth or the result, the performance of Louis Vuitton is much better,” Arnault said. “That said, the figures of Hermès are excellent, too.”