Hermes to sue LVMH over equity swaps to build stake

PARIS, June 19 Wed Jun 19, 2013 3:06am EDT

PARIS, June 19 (Reuters) - Hermes International SCA will sue rival luxury group LVMH seeking the annulment of equity swaps that LVMH used to secretly amass a stake in Hermes, the company said, confirming a newspaper report.

According to French daily Les Echos, Hermes argues that LVMH had the intention to acquire Hermes shares as soon as it bought equity swaps in 2008. Those swaps were supposed to be settled in cash, but ended up being settled in Hermes shares.

A Hermes spokeswoman confirmed the newspaper report but gave no further details.

Hermes owners have fought tooth and nail against LVMH, the luxury vehicle of billionaire Bernard Arnault, since it revealed in 2010 that it had secretly built up a 14 percent stake in Hermes. This was later increased 22.6 percent.

The 175-year-old maker of Birkin and Kelly handbags, founded in Paris by Thierry Herm├Ęs as a harness workshop, has challenged the legality of the stealth stake-building in a court procedure and asked the regulator to intervene.

LVMH has consistently denied any wrongdoing. (Reporting by Geert De Clercq; Editing by David Holmes)

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