Industry Insight: LVMH CEO Surprised About Stake in Hermès

LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton chairman and CEO Bernard Arnault (pictured above) spoke out this week at LVMH’s annual general meeting in Paris regarding the ongoing battle between the company and Hermès. According to WWD, "with LVMH facing scrutiny about whether it respected market rules in amassing a 22.6 percent stake in Hermès,  Arnault claims he came into the holding unexpectedly." Arnault further reiterated that "his intentions toward Hermès were peaceful and he did not plan to increase his stake in the family-controlled firm."

This is especially interesting as the two parties are currently involved in rival lawsuits. Last year, Hermès launched a criminal complaint against LVMH, accusing the luxury conglomerate of insider trading, collusion and manipulating stock prices (stemming from LVMH’s purchase of Hermès shares in 2010).

In October 2010, LVMH announced (to much surprise) that it had "amassed a 17.1 percent stake in Hermès via cash-settled equity swaps that allowed it to circumvent the usual regulations requiring firms to declare share purchases." As of Dec. 31 last year, it had raised its stake to 22.6 percent. In response to Hermès' suit, LVMH, filed suit against Hermès for slander, blackmail and unfair competition.