>> Yesterday in Le Figaro, Patrick Thomas, CEO of Hermes, and Bertrand Puech, representative of the Hermes family, in not so many words, asked Bernard Arnault to sell LVMH's newly acquired stake in the company.
Today, in that same paper, Arnault responded: “I don’t see how the head of a publicly traded company is qualified to ask an investor to sell his shares." He continued: "We’ve taken a stake in Hermes for the long term . . . Our presence in the capital of Hermes presents no risk to society nor to family control. Quite the contrary . . . this operation is a completely amicable one, what’s hostile is the demand that we sell our shares!”
Arnault added that LVMH took stake in Hermes to provide "a certain amount of insurance that the brand will remain French." When it was pointed out that Hermes believes the move a clash of cultures, Arnault replied: "Our cultures are, I think, pretty close. LVMH is the world's leading manufacturer of high quality products. Vuitton trunks, dresses, haute couture from Dior, Dom Perignon, Chateau d'Yquem, among other examples . . . We have in the LVMH group a culture of handicrafts. And LVMH, like Hermes, is a family group. I am convinced that we, as a shareholder, could bring a number of advantages to Hermes."
As for Hermes's stance that its performance is better than LVMH, and it needs no help, Arnault said: "If you want to compare numbers, compare those of Hermes with Louis Vuitton. In this case of either growth or the result, the performance of Louis Vuitton is much better. That said, the figures of Hermes are excellent, too."