Hermes shares soar on LVMH stake

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Shares in French leather goods group Hermes soared more than 15 percent Monday on an announcement by luxury retailer LVMH that it had raised its stake in the company, an operation that left analysts questioning the conditions under which it was carried out.

Hermes said it learned of the move on Saturday, just an hour before a public announcement by LVMH, the world's leading luxury group, which markets such brands as Louis Vuitton, Givenchy, Dom Perignon and Dior.

Heirs of the Hermes family, who own 70 percent of Hermes, on Sunday said they had no plans to sell any of their stake and had not sold any shares to LVMH.

They said in a statement that they remained committed to maintaining control of the company.

LVMH, which climbed 2.38 percent on the Paris stock exchange on Monday, said it had boosted its stake in Hermes International to 14.2 percent from less than five percent but denied it wanted to take it over.

Analysts on Monday were questioning the manner in which LVMH was able to acquire so substantial an additional stake without having to declare the acquisition to the French stock market regulator.

Legal regulations require that a declaration be made whenever a company or an individual owns 5.0 percent of an enterprise.

The French financial market regulator, the AMF, on Monday said it would verify that proper procedures were followed.

LVMH for its part issued a statement insisting that it had "scrupulously conformed to market regulations."

© 2010 AFP

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