Hermès Voiced Frustrations with LVMH's Stake at Annual Meeting

French luxury goods maker Hermès its voiced frustrations at having arch-rival LVMH as its biggest external shareholder at its annual general meeting on Tuesday and once more called on the group to sell its stake. LVMH, the world's biggest luxury group, which owns 23 percent of Hermès, was fined 8 million euros by the French market watchdog AMF last year for failing to properly disclose its building of a stake before 2010. Hermès, the 177-year-old Paris-based design house, which is more than 70 percent family-owned, has been vehemently protesting the presence of LVMH in its shareholder capital ever since it learned of its surprise entry in 2010. "We do not want shareholders that are rivals," Hermès Chief Executive Axel Dumas told the company's annual shareholder meeting on Tuesday. "We want to preserve our independence."

After the meeting, Dumas told Reuters he was "not aware" whether LVMH would be willing to sell down its stake. In an interview with Le Figaro newspaper published on Tuesday, Dumas said: "LVMH is totally free to sell its shares and to be honest, would be welcome to do so." LVMH, the luxury conglomerate that owns Louis Vuitton, Dior, Givenchy, and Celine, among many other brands, has repeatedly said it was "satisfied" with its position as an Hermès shareholder and backed its management's strategy. "But satisfied does not mean friendly," Dumas told Le Figaro. He also said "LVMH is not particularly friendly with our management."

This isn't the first time Dumas has made it clear that he wants LVMH out of the picture. He sat down with the Wall Street Journal’s Christina Passariello this passed March, and when asked about LVMH, he said: "The best benefit they can have is by realizing the capital gain on their shares … [Selling] would create great results that will increase their profit."