Today, France’s stock-market regulator told the Hermes family that they could legally pool their holdings in order to fend off a takeover by LVMH. As we’re sure you’re aware, LVMH has bought 20.21% of Hermes’ shares over the last few months. Although the Hermes family has kept over 70% of the company private, they still fear a hostile takeover by the luxury conglomerate, which views Hermes as what could be the final jewel in its crown. (If LVMH gets a hold of at least 33% of Hermes’ shares, French law says that they must launch a bid for the rest of the shares, although there are exceptions to the rule.)
To create a separate holding company that controls over 50% of Hermes’ shares–and that will be immune to LVMH’s advances–the family brand needed to get permission from French regulators. The regulator has agreed to Hermes’ conditions, but it’s likely an association that defends minority shareholders–which in this case includes LVMH–will appeal the decision.
Despite this small victory, it’s looking more and more likely that LVMH will someday control Hermes. Eventually, one of the family shareholders will flip. And despite LVMH CEO Bernard Arnault‘s proven success, one can’t help but feel romantic about Hermes. It’s one of the only true luxury brands left, and it’s sad to think of it being owned by a huge conglomerate.