>> Now that Bernard Arnault has publicly told Hermes that he won't be withdrawing, the family behind the brand is looking into further defensive measures.
Bertrand Puech, who represents the Hermes family, described Arnault and LVMH's presence as thus: "It's like a mosquito buzzing around, and it's annoying. But it's very difficult to get a mosquito out."
So the Hermes family is considering funneling its shares into an unlisted holding company, which would prevent individual family members from selling their shares to outsiders. This would be an extra defense: Puech heads Emile Hermes, the limited partnership that controls the fashion house and is open only to direct descendants of the founders, which is the current defense in place. The limited partnership's by-laws give the Hermes family decision-making power, even if only one family member remains a shareholder — which means it would be difficult for an outsider to control the company without the entire family's approval.
"The limited partnership is our best defense," Hermes Chief Executive Patrick Thomas said yesterday. "We put it in place for an event like today."