France’s stock market watchdog, the Autorité des Marchés Financiers (AMF)’s sanctions committee has slapped LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton with a fine of $10.4 million, stemming from its acquisition of nearly 20% in rival luxury brand Hermès. The AMF began an investigation into LVMH’s purchase of stake in Hermes in 2010, and in April, announced that it found that LVMH had secretly bought shares in rival Hermès to build a stake in the iconic Paris-based design house, and not merely to make a financial investment as LVMH has claimed. LVMH denies that any insider trading and share price manipulation has taken place.
The sanctions committee’s decision is separate from the luxury rivals’ court proceedings. The two are currently embroiled in a bitter legal battle. Hermès filed a criminal complaint against LVMH in a Paris court in July 2012, accusing the luxury conglomerate of insider trading, collusion and manipulating stock prices. In September 2012, LVMH filed a counter complaint against Hermès for “blackmail, slander and unfair competition.” These cases are currently pending.