“LVMH has decided to terminate the AMF proceedings. This decision reflects LVMH’s commitment to ensuring the soundest possible management of its investment in Hermès,” the company said in a recent statement.
It all started over the summer, when Hermès filed a complaint against the luxury fragrance house relating to the terms in which LVMH had become a stakeholder in the brand.
The fragrance giant had originally purchased a 14.2 per cent stake back in 2010 and now owns 22.3 per cent along with 16 per cent of the voting rights.
It is suggested that the complainant had accused LVMH of engaging in insider trading and manipulating stock prices, whereby the opinion of AMF was called in before deciding whether there was cause to open a possible criminal investigation.
Currently, LVMH's CEO controls 23.1 per cent of Hermès and was greatly helped by equity swaps, a financial instrument that can legitimately be used to avoid disclosing direct ownership information.
The obfuscation meant the fragrance giant owner was not obliged to reveal its position in Hermès.
The company added that despite the fine; “AMF expressly confirmed that in acquiring its equity stake in Hermès, LVMH never breached regulations regarding ownership thresholds or engaged in insider trading or market manipulation.”
The global luxury group filed a countersuit after it heard of the lawsuit whereby it stated that the complaint was serious and based on "unfounded accusations about market failings, and as a result, we had no choice but to file a suit for slander, blackmail and unfair competition.”
However; the luxury giant did admit that back in November 2010, the French regulatory body did open an enquiry into the ‘financial information and share-trading between LVMH and Hermès International’ but that it felt that, with the filing of this complaint, “Hermès seeks to bypass the appropriate AMF channels without waiting for the result of the official enquiry.”