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LVMH 'did not engage in insider trading'

The chair of France’s market regulator reckons LVMH, the luxury group controlled by Bernard Arnault, did not engage in insider trading when building up a stake in fellow family business Hermes.

The chair of France’s market regulator reckons LVMH, the luxury group controlled by Bernard Arnault, did not engage in insider trading when building up a stake in fellow family business Hermes.

Paris-based LVMH, owner of Louis Vuitton, bought its first 14% stake in Hermes in 2010, which it later raised to more than 20%.

The move led to Hermes, owned by descendants of founder Thierry Hermes, lodging a civil complaint against its rival in July this year, accusing it of insider trading and secretly building its stake. Hermes has also asked the regulator to conduct a criminal investigation into LVMH’s transactions. 

Gerard Rameix, chairman of France’s Autorite des Marches Financiers, told BFM Radio that he reckons LVMH had not manipulated the share price when buying its stake in Hermes.

But he added: “[The case] will be examined by our sanctions committee, I believe, in the first few months of 2013.”

LVMH, which built its stake in Hermes through equity derivates, has denied any wrongdoing and described its acquisition as “entirely legitimate”. Last month, LVMH filed a countersuit against Hermes “for slander, blackmail and unfair competition”.

Hermes created a holding company last year to ward off a possible takeover. The family controls about 75% of the group, with nine family members working at the luxury company, famous for its silk scarves and Birkin bags.              

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