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Hermes family determined to retain control of business

The Hermes family, majority owners of the French luxury goods company of the same name, said they were determined to remain in control of the business following an attempt to stop them using their voting rights.

The Hermes family, majority owners of the French luxury goods company of the same name, said they were determined to remain in control of the business following an attempt to stop them using their voting rights.

In a statement on 19 May, the Hermes family said that the Association for the Defence of Minority Shareholders has filed an application to deprive the family of their voting rights during the annual general meeting, scheduled for 30 May.

Reports say that ADAM filed a case as it felt that the family shouldn’t be allowed to shield itself from possible takeovers. According to the group, the Hermes family do not have enough control of the company equity to warrant a waiver of rules by the French authorities – the family was allowed to create a shareholding pool with their 50.2% stake without bidding for the rest of the business – a move opposed by ADAM (Continue reading here).

But the Hermes family emphasised that it has no intentions of giving up its control over the family business. “ADAM’s demand will end up handing control of the meeting to minority shareholder LVMH, whose entry into Hermes’ capital is currently under investigation,” the company said.

LVMH’s 20% stake in Hermes was built secretly and announced in October 2010 by its head Bernard Arnault. LVMH, which is the world’s biggest luxury goods group, had earlier said that it had no intentions of giving up its share in Hermes (Continue reading here).

Following Arnault’s stake building, the Hermes family retaliated by creating their shareholding pool to avoid any possible takeover by the much larger business. The holding company was formed by 52 of the 53 members of the founding family who directly own Hermes shares, but has met with opposition from minority shareholders.

Founded in 1837 by Thierry Hermes, family member Bertrand Peuch serves as executive chairman, while non-family Patrick Thomas is the chief executive of Hermes.

The Paris-based group had 2010 revenues of €2.4 billion, up from €1.9 billion the year before.

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